Let’s face facts, everyone has to eat. Food is a subject common to all mankind, without it we are nothing. When talking politics and religion is a general no-no, everyone can talk food. One can be obsessive about food (i.e. me) and others could care less what they eat (hard to believe)-but without food, we are dead.
In its best form, food brings people together at one table where ideas and conversations are shared. I came from a home where the family sat at the table for dinner: no TV, no radio, and no newspapers – only genuine conversation about everyone’s day, their dreams and desires. I am saddened to see that dining together is a rarity in households: to me, this is core to feeling the warmth and love of the family.
Oh, one might be on a diet but one talks about the foods they aren’t eating, shouldn’t eat or want to eat. I am quoting a bit out of context from a book called The Memoirs of Bambi Goldbloom: “Money makes the world go round but you have to eat everyday. There are 4 kinds of people: those thinking about dieting, those dieting, those thinking about eating and those eating.”
On the precipice of 2009 may my wishes be for full plates for everyone, that hunger in this world disappears and hope that over a dinner table somewhere peace can be achieved.
Happy New Year!
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Posted by Dara Bunjon at 12/31/2008 12:50:00 PM
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Which party dress should I choose? Where shall I dine? Who will join us? What will make this evening special? You might be surprised by all my answers.
My party ensemble will more than likely be my fuzzy blue slippers with the pompoms, blue jeans and a 15 year old sweatshirt. With that get up the fashionistas will picket me like the PETA people after they hear that I’m going to boil lobster for dinner. So where I will dine is answered- at home. We might even splurge for a movie on demand but doubt the husband will stay awake past 8 p.m.
The last time we went out for NY Eve it was a COMPLETE disaster. It was an overnight package at a suburban hotel. My poor friends who suggested it still apologize for the evening. Both couples checked into the rooms and then on to the dining room. We waited at least 40 minutes before we saw a server and got water and bread-that was all that we had. We waited another hour and never got our order placed. We checked out. So where do you go at 11:30 on NY Eve? We ended up at the Nautilus Diner in Lutherville, had steak and eggs, celebrated the ringing in of the New Year with complimentary champagne and went home. Of course the ordeal didn’t make the husband a pleasant person, like I knew this was going to happen. They say that home is where the heart and this year,all of me is going to be home for New Year's Eve.
I know I can’t be the only one that had a hellish times on New Year’s Eve – do share.
Monday, December 29, 2008
This triangular shaped restaurant location at the corner of Montford Avenue, Boston Street and Hudson Street in Canton has gone through a number of permutations from Weber’s multiple owners, to the French incarnation with Dennis Manneville to Red Fish and its multiple owners. Renamed Meridian 54, it offers a refreshed, light and airy décor, a creative menu and a talented local chef, Russell Braitsch - this could be just the right mix.
We opted for the crab cake sandwich ($12) and Wagyu beef burger stacked on a Kaiser roll with applewood smoked bacon, wild mushrooms, Fontina cheese and a basil aioli ($12). Both were accompanied with “Pops” hand-cut French Fries that are topped with Parmesan cheese, truffle oil and chives. They even brought out a sample of their house-made charred beef gravy for us to sample. I thought the burger was a winner both for taste and size. The crab cake was large, generous although it isn’t lump or backfin. I think they have more interesting dishes and flavors to try – Duck Confit Pizza ($7), Shrimp Dumplings ($10), Mediterranean Sea Salt Baked Salmon ($12), Porcini Scented Breast of Free Range Chicken ($14).
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Is there such a thing as too many desserts? - I chose this story because it is every foodie’s dream to dine at a world renowned restaurant, to have cache in the kitchen with the celebrity pastry chef and be treated like someone special. Though this took place a number of years ago, it is my favorite restaurant memory.
Shark repellent alla Julia Child - Here was an opportunity to inform you of untold stories about Julia Child, as shared with me by the producer of a number of her television series. Also my experience sharing a table with Julia at her first crab feast.
Chef Barbara Tropp rediscovered - This was my salute to a ground breaking chef from San Francisco who died too early. Her husband, Bart Rhoades, shared a recently found uncompleted/unpublished story she was writing for Bon Appetit. She was a leading expert in Chinese food and forerunner in her philosophies of what we should eat. This story will lend insight into the passion of a chef.
2. Overwhelmed in the Wildwood food triangle - This is my foodie “ah ha” moment, a moment for the hereafter and for the here-and-now, a recipe for one of life’s best sandwiches.
1. Two views from one table - A unique evening with the Food Examiner and I, the Dining Examiner, having dinner together and each of us writing about our view of the evening and the food. The restaurant, Bicycle, was a great back drop and good food. The story has a link to Juliette Goodwin’s view of the evening, it has video and photographs. As they say, and who the h*ll knows who “they” are, there are always two sides to a story.
Do you have a favorite Dining Examiner story, if so; I would LOVE to know which tickled your gastronomic fancy?
Monday, December 22, 2008
It was cold and damp out and I thought soup and potato pancakes (latkes) were perfect for a luncheon I was preparing for a friend. It wasn’t my original menu but the luncheon got rescheduled for the next day and the main course had been marinated from the night before, so the husband and I ate it for dinner the night prior.
The soup was what my mother used to call a sweet and sour cabbage soup and she always served potato pancakes with it. I hadn’t made it in a very long time and my pre-Hanukah potato latke craving was kicking in. My friend, Monyka, is an adventurous eater so I didn’t worry. We ended up eating 2 bowls of soup and wiping out all the potato pancakes.
Desserts were cranberry/pistachio biscotti, chocolate ginger biscotti (Click HERE for the recipe) and orange cranberry muffins.
Potato Pancakes (yield 8 to 14 pancakes)
2 baking potatoes, peeled
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
1 large egg
1 tablespoon flour
Kosher salt – to taste
Fresh ground black or white pepper to taste
Canola oil or melted rendered chicken fat
Food processor with grating blade & regular or box grater-large holes
Fine mesh strainer or tea towel
1 large bowl
Pancake griddle or fry pan
½ sheet pan or cookie sheet
I personally use the food processor with the grater blade to do the potatoes and then put in the regular blade and add back the grated potatoes with the quartered onion and process into smaller pieces.
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees or warm.
Once the potatoes and onions are processed I add the mixture to a mesh strainer over a bowl to let the excess liquid drain out. If you don’t have a fine mesh strainer then put the potato/onion mixture in a tea towel and twist it real tight over the sink to help get rid of the excess water content. If you are using a fine mesh strainer you will see liquid in the bowl but a pasty white substance at the bottom. That is starch so I add that back after I drain off the liquid.
I have the potato/onion mixture in a large bowl I then add a generous portion of kosher salt and grind or two of pepper, the egg and 1 tablespoon of flour and mix well.
I have a griddle pan that goes over two burners so I turn on my burners to medium high and let that preheat a little while. I had some melted rendered chicken fat (most of you won’t) but it is an indulgence once a year. I use a pastry brush to coat the griddle top and proceed to make the pancakes.
Once I finish a batch of potato pancakes I put them on the ½ sheet pan and put them in the oven to stay warm. You can use a fry pan, with a small coating of oil and fry the pancakes.
I am a potato pancake purist; I just add salt – no applesauce, sour cream or ketchup when I eat them.
This is the ideal soup for a cold, damp, chilly day. It will warm you through and through down to your toenails. Monyka and I had two bowls and polished of a good number of potato pancakes
Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup serves 6 to 8
I am going to give you the short version of this recipe. Tell you I used my pressure cooker to speed up the time. I didn’t measure a thing so these are estimates. I used my homemade chicken stock.
Oil to coat stock pot, dutch oven or pressure cooker bottom
1 package of flanken (cut of beef) or Korean cut beef ribs
(approximately ½ pound to ¾ pound)
Salt and pepper
1 onion, peeled and rough dice
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of salt
½ small can of sauerkraut
3 plum tomatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon sugar
8 cups chicken or beef stock (homemade preferably – less sodium)
5 to 6 quart pot or large pressure cooker w/lid
Season the meat with salt and pepper to taste
Heat your pot to medium high to high heat, add the oil and then the flanken or Korean cut beef ribs and brown them on both sides. You will probably be doing this in batches so once brown remove to a plate and let the natural juices accumulate.
Add the onions, carrots, shredded cabbage, garlic and salt, stir and cook until the onion and cabbage start to soften.
Add the ½ can of sauerkraut, tomatoes and stock and bring to a simmer and let cook covered for about 1½ hours at a low simmer. If you know how to work with a pressure cooker, cook for 30 minutes.
As the soup cools, taste it for additional seasoning.
If there is soup leftover, this freezes very well.
If you have any questions, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Resolve your restaurant holiday gift certificate giving conundrum as to who would like which restaurant. Give a gift certificate from the Restaurant Association of Maryland redeemable at over 500 local Maryland restaurants.
Started in 1994, RAM's restaurant gift certificate program provides a win-win for Maryland diners and restaurants by providing easy and flexible redemption options as well as additional business for local restaurants.
"When consumers 'give the gift of dining' to their friends and family with our restaurant gift certificates, they are playing a significant part in strengthening the state's economy. When people buy local this holiday season, we all benefit by keeping money in Maryland, with Maryland businesses that provide Maryland jobs," commented Paul Hartgen, President and CEO of RAM. "Many large employers in the state have also recognized the value of these restaurant gift certificates, using them as a chance to reward their employees with a night out when they may be tightening their own belts" Hartgen continued.
A recent article in the Baltimore Sun recommended that this holiday season consumers give restaurant gift certificates from RAM. “Our dining certificates eliminate the guess work in choosing that special gift. They are easy to purchase in varying increments, without the hassle of parking lot mayhem. Recipients are presented with numerous dining options throughout the state for any and every occasion” added Hartgen.
To make it easy to 'give the gift of dining' RAM restaurant gift certificates are available for purchase in increments of $10, $25, or $50 online at http://giftcertificates.marylandrestaurants.com/, by phone (410) 290-6800 or in person at RAM's headquarters located at 6301 Hillside Court, Columbia, MD 21046. For a complete list of member restaurants participating in RAM’s gift certificate program please visit the website at http://www.marylandrestaurants.com/ or simply click on www.marylandrestaurants.com/participating.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
For $10, you can buy a virtual raffle ticket to win a one-on-one cooking class with me and an autographed copy of YUM-Tasty Recipes from Culinary Greats (item # UE38), win exclusive tickets to the filming of Iron Chef (item # UE27), dinner with Eric Asimov of the New York Times (item #WB02) and more.
As a self professed foodie-gone-awry, I have had the pleasure of food styling for a number of culinary greats including Giuliano Bugiali, Nick Malgieri, Sara Moulton, Steven Raichlen and many more. This one-on-one cooking class will last 3 hours either in your home or mine on a date that is mutually agreeable.( class is limited to the Baltimore-Washington DC area). (item # UE38)
I am also donating an autographed copy of my co-authored cookbook with Jeff Spear, YUM – Tasty Recipes from Culinary Greats that features recipes from culinarians from around the country like Jody Adams in Boston, Jacques Torres, Nick Malgieri, Sara Moulton in New York, Susanna Foo in Philadelphia, and José Andrés, Michel Richard, Nora Pouillon in DC.
So many more; Steven Raichlen, Norman Van Aken, Susan Spicer, Sherry Yard, Jamie Gwen, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, Christine Keff, Jerry Traunfeld, Tom Douglas, Dan Barber, Suvir Saran, John Fleer, Nathalie Dupree, Joanne Weir, Susan Hermann Loomis, Charlie Trotter, Dorie Greenspan, Rick Bayless, Rick Tramonto and more!
Hear more about the book in this audio interview on public radio – Click HERE.
Food Bloggers World Wide
Each December, food bloggers from all over the world join the campaign by offering a delectable array of food-related prizes for the Menu for Hope raffle. Anyone – and that means you too - can buy raffle tickets to bid on these prizes. For every $10 donated, you earn one virtual raffle ticket to bid on a prize of your choice. At the end of the two-week campaign, the raffle tickets are drawn and the results announced on Chez Pim.
Last year, we raised nearly $100,000 through the online food community and that money went to supporting the school lunch and farming program for the children in Lesotho
List of Prizes
There are many more culinary prizes available in this raffle -check out all the prizes HERE and HERE for East Coast prizes
What is Menu for Hope?
Menu for Hope is an annual fundraising campaign hosted by Chez Pim and a revolving group of food bloggers around the world. Five years ago, the devastating tsunami in Southeast Asia inspired Pim to find a way to help, and the very first Menu for Hope was born. The campaign has since become a yearly affair, raising funds to support worthy causes worldwide. In 2007, Menu for Hope raised nearly $100K to help the UN World Food Programme feed the hungry.
Who is the beneficiary of this year's campaign?
Once again we’ve chosen to work with the UN World Food Programme. WFP is the world’s largest food aid agency, working with over 1,000 other organizations in over 75 countries. In addition to providing food, the World Food Program helps hungry people to become self-reliant so that they escape hunger for good.
Who collects the money?
Certainly not me, nor is it the other bloggers participating on the campaign. We know our readers trust us, but we also want to be completely transparent in our fundraising. So, we use a very good online fundraising company called Firstgiving, who has worked with us since the first Menu for Hope years ago.
Donors can make an online donation with a credit card. Firstgiving collects and processes the payments and, at the end of the campaign, transfers the donations in one lump sum to the WFP. This is a win-win situation for all parties involved. The bloggers never touch the money. The WFP doesn't waste overhead on processing mini-donations, the majority of which were between $10-$50, that’s a whole lot of tenners. Firstgiving does all the work and collects a small fee, which include the credit card processing charges.
Last year, Firstgiving gave back 1% of the total amount raised in lieu of a discount on their processing fee. Thank you Firstgiving, we appreciated it very much!
To Donate and Enter the Menu for Hope Raffle
Here's what you need to do:
1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope above(be careful with your item numbers)
2. Go to the donation site at Firstgiving and make a donation.
3. Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code.
Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02 - 2xEU01, 3xEU02.
4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.
5. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.
For more info: Join the giving and win – Donate HERE Any questions email me at email@example.com
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
A friend told me her father hired a part-time helper in his shop and realized the gentleman was not eating lunch. He advised his employee to stop and take lunch. The helper said it was more important that there is food for his children and was skipping the meal. My friend’s father is now keeping peanut butter, jelly, bread and ramen soups for his employees, so no one goes hungry.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
As I dashed into my Gucci Giant Supermarket on Old Court Road, at the entrance I saw this new display with hand-held scanners that you take with you in your shopping carts. New technology, I’m game…alas, it kicks off tomorrow, December 9th.
Giant’s new SCAN IT! allows you to scan your groceries, get extra savings, keep track of your total and bag your groceries while you shop. When you are done your shopping you just pay and go!
-When you enter the store you pick up scanner and bags. And at the SCAN IT station scan your bonus card.
-The scanner rack will light up, identifying which SCAN IT! scanner to use.
-Take the scanner and some bags
-Place the bags on the inside of the card and begin shopping
-Get extra savings exclusively with SCAN IT!
-Special offers just for you every time you use SCAN IT!
-Select an item and scan the barcode
-After scanning the item, place it in the bag and continue shopping
Special Care Items
-Produce: Most produce items can be scanned after printing a label at the SCAN IT! scales in the Produce Department. For items that are pre-packaged, like bags of apples or containers of cherry tomatoes, just scan the barcode on the product.
-Bakery: For baked goods that are sold individually, like donuts and bagels, scan the SCAN IT! barcode on the appropriate sign in the Bakery Department
-Bulk Coffee & Candy: Weigh your bulk coffee and candy during the checkout process.
To remove an item:
-Press the remove button and scan the item
-The item will be removed from the scanner and the total will be adjusted
Pay & Go
-When finished shopping, proceed to the checkout lane.
-Scan the “End of Order” barcode at the checkout area.
-Place the SCAN IT! scanner in the return rack at checkout.
-Scan your Giant Bonus Card at the checkout register and follow the on-screen instructions to complete your transaction
-Pay and Go!
I will report back once I have tried the new system.
I never seem to have my bonus cards when I need them. Maybe I need a personal barcode tattooed on my palm that will cover all this. SCAN IT! convenience for us, time & money savings for us…not such good news for the checkout staff.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Today, as the husband and I detoured today down Druid Hill Avenue, past my former elementary school and long-gone Carlin’s park, we chatted about their ice rink, roller rink and swimming pool. I immediately flashed back to the pan of Harley burgers sitting in the mystery red sauce that was served at the pool’s food pavilion.
I’m not sure what the red sauce was and I’m food curious if any of you might have an idea what was in it? I did like my Harley burgers. I know they were tasty, yes! – healthy, aaah doubtful. I’m not sure what kind of meat was in them, supposedly beef.
Don’t talk amongst yourselves; the floor is open to discussion.
Posted by Dara Bunjon at 12/07/2008 10:45:00 PM
Friday, December 05, 2008
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Nation's Restaurant News yesterday reported that the real barometer of our economic times has hit. That gastronomic delight called the McDonald's Double Cheeseburger will be increasing to a suggested retail price to $1.19, still maintaining its double patty-double cheese and come off the dollar menu. Don't worry, the Dollar Menu will include a NEW sandwich, the McDouble - which is made with two pattys and one slice of cheese. Now can you live without that extra slice???????
Papa John's hits $1 million in sales from mobile-phone web orders....Yoo hoo restaurateurs, here is your wake up call - get with it, get the technology to help your bottom line. SIDEBAR: When will we totally loose the ability to personally interface with other human beings. I know I spend too much time at the puter. Your thoughts?
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Here is another list of food trends for 2009.
What You'll Eat in 2009: Epicurious.com Predicts New Food Trends
Be sure to check earlier post on 2009 Restaurant trends.
Make something different than cookies for the holidays. Learn how I played with ready-to-eat cheesecake filling to make cheesecake lollipops. It truly dresses up the holiday table with a not-too-filling sweet finish that is festive.
President elect Obama has a fancy for Fran’s Chocolates out Seattle which is caramel, chocolate and smoked sea salt -I paid homage with some of my chocolate caramel cheesecake pops with smoked sea salt.
1 Tub Container – 24 oz Philadelphia Ready-to-Eat cheesecake filling
12 to 18 ounces – Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
12 ounces - Caramel Sundae Topping
12 ounces – White chocolate chips
8 ounces – Nutella
Assorted chopped nuts
Cookie decorations like jimmies, colored sugars
Coarse sea salt & smoked sea salt
1 glass of warm water: for dipping the melon baller between cheesecake balls
24 lollipop sticks (or cocktail stirs)
Freeze the cheesecake filling in its container or spread in a wax paper lined ¼ sheet pan (or cake pan) and put it in the freezer. You want the filling to firm up so they can be shaped in small balls. I found that a minimum of 30 minutes was needed on the ¼ sheet pan and would really leave it a full hour athe next time. If you are freezing the whole container, you might allow 1 ½ hours and check the consistency at that time and give it more time if necessary.
Once the filling is firm, use a melon baller to shape them in little balls, a full rounded tablespoon. I found I finished shaping them in my hands. So keep a damp towel handy. I also suggest you work quickly and do ½ a batch at a time because the filling will defrost quickly. Put the lollipop sticks in the cheesecake balls and replace in the freezer for 1 hour.
You can prep your coatings and toppings in the mean time. I highly suggest you go with one topping at a time i.e. chocolate, white chocolate. Now I had to keep heating up the toppings because I was working with too many. Microwave the chocolate, Nutella and caramel at 50% power for 30 seconds. If they haven’t soften enough, another 30 seconds, etc. You will need to whisk the toppings to make sure they are pliable and smooth. The white chocolate chips took longer in the microwave and set up faster. You want to heat the toppings just prior to taking the cheesecake lollipops out of the freezer.
When your pops are frozen, take out only what you can coat quickly and dip them in one coating at a time. Sprinkle on your toppings and place them back in the freezer on a wax paper lined pan. I dipped some of mine in caramel, then the chocolate and sprinkled on sea salt( the above homage to Obama). Keep your cheesecake lollipops in the freezer until 30 minutes prior to serving.
If you make the lollipops too big they will bend over on the cocktail straw, the regular lollipop sticks might hold it better. These are not hard, just time consuming as to really letting the cheesecake firm up that working with it is simple.
The finished product is in the photo. You could tie little ribbons around the pops for added color and presentation. I took a wide mouth jar, filled is the floral glass balls to hold the sticks and tied a ribbon around the neck of the jar.
I discover a couple other recipes where you make your own cheesecake filling …this is much simpler. If you make these pops, send me photos… I’m sure you can come up with some clever presentations that you can share.
I found the ready-to-eat cheesecake at Super Fresh. I didn’t check any other stores. They did not have lollipop sticks. You might check with William Sonoma or the Cake Cottage on Belair Road for those.
I shot a lot of this in video and spliced it but it didn’t upload correctly, I got the audio from the whole thing but only the last section of the video. HELP!
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
I am adding a link to a story I posted on the other blog. Click on the link.
Baltimore Dining Examiner: Restaurant Food Trends for 2009
Posted using ShareThis
Monday, December 01, 2008
Organic split peas soup with baby carrots, leeks and golden potatoes
Cranberry goat cheese salad with organic baby spinach with sliced Clementine, pear slices and toasted walnuts served with pomegranate vinaigrette
Organic butternut squash puree with a pumpkin butter sauce and toasted pumpkin seeds
Root vegetable pot pie with turnips, parsnip, carrot, radish and red potato served over sautéed mustard green with kale and topped with a roasted shallot gravy
Organic red and golden beet stir fry with sweet potato, fennel and crispy tofu sautéed in a sweet and sour sesame sauce served over organic brown rice with candied pecans ( vegan)
Sliced tofurkey with Brussel sprouts in a creamy horseradish sauce served with mashed parsnips and granny smith apple sauce
One World is located at 100 West University Parkway in Baltimore, across from the Hopkins’ lacrosse fields. It is the eighth restaurant to meet the Eat in Season Challenge.
A diverse group of area restaurants has stepped up to take the Eat in Season Challenge, an initiative of Slow Food Baltimore that invites area establishments to serve -- during one week of the month -- a special three-course menu each night with the primary ingredients in each course to be locally sourced, and either currently in season, or traditionally preserved. The metro-wide campaign encourages chefs to be innovative; to create food that otherwise may not be featured or showcased. The Challenge also teaches people about the powerful benefits of eating seasonally.
For more information visit, www.SlowFoodBaltimore.com and click on “Eat In Season.”