The Dining Dish blog is Dara Bunjon's take on anything food, both national and in her hometown of Baltimore. Warning: this food blog can be harmful to your waistline.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Never do without Berger Cookies again

For those of you not from the Baltimore region, Berger Cookies are as recognizable in this city as are steamed crabs and crab cakes. A chewy vanilla based cookie with a mound of chocolate, similar to Mt. Kilimanjaro, perched on top reaching for the sky. For those of you from Baltimore who just went through the Berger Cookie draught due to failing health of the baker’s family member and them not having the proper licensing, not to worry they should be back on the shelves next week if not sooner.

For full story and recipe click HERE

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Former Baltimore chef passes away at 34

Chef Joshua Hill passed away this past Sunday of pneumonia. Originally from Memphis, he spent time in Baltimore at Tabrizi’s and then opened Night of the Cookers which received rave reviews.

Joshua was a big man both in size and in heart. I remember riding with him to Philadelphia to a very special dinner at Le Bec Fin for numerous chefs from Baltimore.  He loved his Southern roots; he loved his music and quoting the lyrics 

He was a graduate of Johnson and Wales in Charleston South Carolina and parlayed that into his Southern Hospitality Solutions, the Restaurant consulting business.  A restaurateur/consultant, he enjoyed developing restaurant concepts and opening new restaurants. 

I think this quote from his Facebook page will lend insight into his love of words. Chef Joshua Hill, “I prefer to regard a dessert as I would imagine the perfect woman: subtle, a little bittersweet, not blowsy and extrovert. Delicately made up, not highly rouged. Holding back, not exposing everything and, of course, with a flavor that lasts.” 

For those interested you can find his obituary and information about his memorial service at Roller Funeral Home.

“Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes.” … Billy Joel.
Goodbye Joshua

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chef Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray’s new seasonal cookbook

Diversity is the name of any restaurant kitchen with all ethnicities cooking cuisines not their own. Award winning, James Beard multi nominated Chef Todd Gray, a Virginia homeboy marries an urban raised Jewish girl and they make history with their Washington DC restaurant Equinox. The cookbook is The New Jewish Table – Modern Seasonal Recipes for Traditional Dishes. Yes the book is just in time for Passover although the recipes are fit for any table.

Read the full story HERE

The Prime Rib at Maryland Live! Casino is open

The doors have opened to the fourth location of the legendary, wait for it, Zagat-Rated #1 steakhouse, The Prime Rib at the Maryland Live! Casino. Over the 48 years The Prime Rib Baltimore has received numerous accolades and awards; Best of Baltimore by Baltimore Magazine, one of the Top Five Romantic Restaurants in the U. S. by Food and Wine magazine and Esquire magazine’s Top Twenty Steakhouses in the U.S. to mention a few. Proof is in the longevity and popularity of the Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. The Prime Rib fine dining restaurants.

Watch the slideshow and read the full story HERE.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Morton’s The Steakhouse Inner Harbor Baltimore has a new look and menu

At the beginning of 2012, Landry’s Inc. purchased Morton’s Restaurant Group Inc., or as restaurant goers know it as Morton’s The Steakhouse. Landry’s owner Tilman Fertitta’s goal was to modernize Morton’s both exterior and interior and excuse the pun, as writer David Kaplan stated, “beef up the menu.”

Watch the slideshow and read the full story HERE 

Morton's - the Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Eleven year old food blogger turns chef interviewer

When I met Eli Knauer who writes Adventures of a Koodie he was nine years old with his goal in life is to be a food writer. In fact, I wrote a piece on him in August, 2010 just as he was starting to blog his restaurant reviews. Since that time Eli has made local, national and international news. 

The international attention stemmed from his connection with Ron Matz of WJZ-TV. They both judged the grilled cheese contest at the Mt. Washington Tavern. Matz was impressed on how Eli took the time to taste and comment on the grilled cheese contest entries which precipitated an interview with Eli for the television station. From there interest grew.  With over 100,000 hits on his blog and over 200 regular followers, Eli tastes and reviews restaurants letting everyone know if they are kid friendly and how the food tastes from a kid’s perspective.

Watch the video and read the full story HERE

Monday, February 11, 2013

Is Honey Truffled Chicken my most famous dish?

The question presented to me was what dish are you famous for and my answer is my brisket.  People rave about it, want the recipe and stand by my side when I make it.  But you ask why the title of this post states Honey Truffle Chicken?  The reason is there is no set recipe for my brisket, each time it is slightly different depending what I have on hand, it is what I call a dump dish. 

If you are a fly-by-your-seat-of-your-pants cook like myself then you will understand why there is no official recipe, no measurements but here goes. Obsessive compulsive personalities this is not for you but the Honey Truffle Chicken recipe below is right up your exacting obsessions. 

Dara’s Brisket:
The recipe is braising a flat cut brisket (size up to you- I trim a lot of the excess fat at the top but leave some), mirepox (onions, carrots, celery), mixed Italian dry seasoning, green and/ or red peppers, mushrooms (fresh and/or dry), wine (red or white), soy sauce, tomato (fresh, paste, sauce, marinara or a combo of any of these), homemade chicken stock, fresh basil or pesto, anchovies, garlic, salt, pepper, water and sealing it up tight, really tight  and cooking it in a 350 degree oven for a minimum of 2 ½ hours to 3 ½ hours. I may or may not have all these ingredients on hand so I dump what I have. 

When finished cooking remove the brisket from the juices and let it rest.  There will be shrinkage of the roast (you remember Seinfeld’s episode on shrinkage) so do not get concerned.  Meanwhile strain the juices and toss all the veggies and solids and reserve the juices.  Slice your brisket thin against the grain and put it back in its own juices.  Reheat to serve that day or refrigerate or freeze for later use.  When the brisket is gone you still might have the juices, don’t toss, save it for a base for a beef soup or stew. I like serving this with sauteed haricot verts and egg noodles.

I’m almost famous for my Honey Truffle Chicken…it hasn’t knocked the Dara’s Brisket out of the top position but I’m willing to share.  This is a simple dish, always wows and gets raves. So I guess this post is a 2fer. 

Honey Truffle Chicken – serves 4

Chicken will need to marinate a minimum of 8 hours up to 24 hours.  The sweet aromatic chicken goes well with a wild rice blend with dried cranberries, mashed  or roasted potatoes and a simple side salad with a bright vinaigrette.



3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons to ¼ cup of truffle oil (depending on strength & how much you like truffle oil)
¼ cup fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 to 2 Tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Kosher salt or fine sea salt

4 pounds fresh chicken parts (whatever is your favorite)


1.       Mix the marinade together and blend the honey, chicken stock, truffle oil, fresh thyme leaves, pepper and salt together. 
2.       Wash and pat dry your chicken parts.  If you are using both breasts and thighs I like to cut the breasts in half if they are really large. Feel free to trim any excess fat that usually appears on the the thighs.
3.       Combine the marinade and the chicken parts in a non-reactive container: Plastic tub, food storage bags etc.  Make sure the marinade coats the chicken well and put in the refrigerator for a minimum of 8 hours not to exceed 24 hours.
4.       Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 
5.       Pull the chicken from the refrigerator and let it come to temperature for 30 minutes for a more even cooking.
6.       Line baking sheets with foil or parchment paper for easier clean up. Place the chicken parts on the lined baking sheets.  You want to cook about 30 to 40 minutes until you reach an internal temperature of 165°. Use an instant read thermometer.  Let the chicken rest for five minutes and serve.

Remember a recipe is a guideline - feel free to adjust to your tastes.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Wednesdays at Gia offers $10 pizza, pasta and risotto

Do I have a place for you to dine on Wednesday nights! Every Wednesday night the best place to be for pasta, pizza or risotto is Little Italy’s dining gem, Café Gia. Located on the corner of Eastern Avenue and High Street, this Italian ristorante will be offering a rotating selection of full portioned pastas, pizzas and risotto for $10 EVERY Wednesday evening. For only $2 more, guests can enjoy gluten free pasta or whole wheat pasta. This tasty Italian dining treat kicks off every Wednesday evening at 5 p.m. for dine-in service.Do I have a place for you to dine on Wednesday nights! Every Wednesday night the best place to be for pasta, pizza or risotto is Little Italy’s dining gem, Café Gia. Located on the corner of Eastern Avenue and High Street, this Italian ristorante will be offering a rotating selection of full portioned pastas, pizzas and risotto for $10 EVERY Wednesday evening. For only $2 more, guests can enjoy gluten free pasta or whole wheat pasta. This tasty Italian dining treat kicks off every Wednesday evening at 5 p.m. for dine-in service.

Check out this evening's menu and slideshow HERE Cafe Gia on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

I went west, Route 40 West in my quest for Asian food

I spent numerous days putting together and visiting the extensive list of Asian restaurants on the Route 40 corridor from Catonsville to Ellicott City.  The story along with the sidebar listing 25 dining establishments in this area can be read at   So  no matter what your Asian yen might be you can find it: Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Thai and Japanese - dumplings to dim sum - it is all in this story.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Eat a bowl while watching the Super Bowl and get a bowl free

Everyone is in on the Super Bowl food mania but this one will have you coming back for more. Why, because you get a card for a regular free bowl when you buy a Square Bowl, (feeds 4) at Noodles & Company.

So if you aren’t the Martha Stewart of entertaining you can easily call in your order for pick up Sunday, February 3 at any of the “participating Noodles & Company whether it be truffle mac and cheese, spaghetti & meatballs, pad thai, Bangkok curry, pesto cavatappi or pasta fresca .

Read the full story and watch the slideshow HERE

Friday, February 01, 2013

What’s on your Super Bowl menu? And is it purple?

When rooting for the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday during Super Bowl are you going to be eating something purple? In an earlier post, I shared Chef Nancy Longo’s recipe for purple deviled eggs. Chef Longo will tell you there is a tradition that goes with her Raven’s eggs. All the purple deviled eggs must be eaten before the game starts. Nancy is representing Baltimore at the Taste of the NFL in New Orleans. Knowing Nancy she has packed her San Francisco 49ers voodoo doll.

What foods are purple?

Figs, purple grapes, purple cauliflower, purple peppers, plums, blackberries and if you bake enough walnuts in a loaf of bread it will turn purple.

Read the complete story and watch the video HERE


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