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Jazz Up Your Water

24 May

by Green Gourmet L

Photo from coloribus.com

I was browsing around Old Town this past weekend, and I promised myself I wouldn’t buy anything. I’ve got some summer trips coming up (not to mention a big move to Texas), so I’ve tightened the purse strings. Let’s be honest, the purse strings are super glued together. But I had to make an exception when I came upon this special little guy:

Photo from tesseire.com

This is a French fruit syrup, which is made from 50% fruit juice. It has no chemicals, preservatives, or dyes. No artificial sweeteners.

You can do a bunch of things with this:

  • Sweeten up your favorite hot tea
  • Drizzle over fresh fruit (like the rose or violette flavors)
  • Pour over ice cream or sorbet
  • Add a zing to your homemade salad dressing
  • Mix it into yogurt
  • Make peach flavored ice to put into iced tea
  • Reinvent your favorite cocktail (mint julep anyone?)
  • Make your own soda by adding a splash to your sparkling water

We made our own Orangina using 1 part orange syrup to 9 parts water. So good!  They have a variety of flavors -orange, strawberry, lemon, lime, mint, anise, pineapple, almond, violette, even pamplemousse (my favorite French word). You can see what you remember from your highschool French class on their website. Or, if you’re like me, you can hop on over to Amazon and order your favorite flavor. If you live in DC, head to Old Town Alexandria and check out La Cuisine  to buy Teisseire and other great foodie finds! Enjoy this awesome product and don’t forget you read about it on Green Gourmets!

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A Food Tour of the EU Embassies

10 May

by Green Gourmet L

Of all the things going on in DC, people swore up and down that I HAD to go to the “Open House” weekend at the EU Embassies. As I read about the events from last year, I realized that I needed a plan of attack. This year, they were expecting over 50,000 people, long lines, and gorgeous weather. Our plan? Wait in line early for a “popular” open house and then hit the smaller ones later in the day. This plan worked perfectly. Here’s where we went (and the food, of course).

Embassy 1: Greece 

We must have waited in line for about an hour to get in. Just when you think you’re almost there…

You realize upon entering that there is a line to get to the food. Hmmmph. It was worth it. to get a sampling of savory and sweet dishes from some of the restaurants around town.

An Ouzo flavored soda to quench your thirst:

Followed by some grape leaves, pita chips, hummus, and tzatziki:

For dessert, of course the traditional baklava and a honey/walnut cookie:

Know who else was there? Zaytinya of course! If you’ve never heard of Zaytinya, check out the Green Gourmet’s review here. Zaytinya was serving their own version of greek yogurt with apricots and handing out their secret recipe. Yum.

After a sweet ending at the Greek Embassy, we decided to head to…

Embassy 2: Estonia

Do you know where Estonia is? I do (now). When we were outside, we were lucky enough to watch some traditional Estonian dancing, and they were nice enough to pose for the papparazzo.

Although, I’m not sure how the people from Estonia survive on their food. The samples were garlic croutons and dried anchovies.

I guess you just drink alot of this:

This light brew got us ready to move onto the next…

Embassy 3: Bulgaria  

This was one of my favorites on the inside.  A big beautiful staircase and lots of fresh flowers.

They were serving a traditional savory cheese pastry called Banitsa:

And a red wine produced in Bulgaria. Is it possible for a red wine to be both sweet and dry? Discuss.

At this point, we were over having to wait in any more lines. And because it was a beautiful day, we headed to the Georgetown waterfront to visit the House of Sweden.

Embassy 4: Sweden

Sorry Sweden, apparently I was feeling camera shy. Or slightly tipsy from three  two servings of Bulgarian wine.

This is the entranceway, which has a modern water feature.

The inside feels very much like wandering through Ikea. Multiple floors, huge glass windows, modern architecture. They served some of my favorite cheese (Jarlsberg) with lingonberry jam. And chocolate cookies courtesy of… you guessed it, Ikea.

What’s the perfect end to a perfect day of Embassy tours? The perfect beer. In this case it’s Blue Moon.

I’m kinda bummed I won’t be here for the upcoming Around the World Embassy Tour happening this weekend! Click here for more details. Have fun on your travels and don’t forget you read about it on Green Gourmets!

Great Grapes Wine Festival

4 May

by Green Gourmet L

What do you do when it’s sunny, 70 degrees, spring time, and Saturday? Drink wine of course! And what’s more fun than drinking wine? Drinking lots of wine. You can sample up to 200 different wines at the Reston, VA wine festival. If you missed it this weekend, not to worry. The Great Grapes festival will be back this way in the fall (Sept 10th and 11th). Don’t live anywhere close to Virginia? The festival also stops in Cockeysville, MD and Charlotte/Cary, NC. Check out the website for more info on the festival.

Now onto the good stuff…the wine! There were two wineries that we liked the best:

Granted, we didn’t have the time (or the stomach) to sample all 200 wines, so we had to pick and choose based on eye-catching signs and proximity to our blankets. Each tent gave about 5-9 samples, which were a mixture of whites, reds, and some sweet wines. The nice thing about drinking local wines (similar to eating from local farmers) is that you’re giving money back to the community and supporting small, local businesses. Many of these smaller vineyards offer tours, wine dinners, or even a chance to stay overnight. What a fun weekend trip! Here are the two wines that we loved:

Chardonnay Reserve 2008

Grown at an altitude of 1700 feet, the 2008 Chardonnay Reserve is a wonderful wine with a toasty vanilla nose, a delightfully light mid palate filled with citrus and apples and a subtle oak finish.

Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2007

Tight nose opens to feature hints of plum and other dark stone fruits. Upon the palate, this wine widens to include blackberry and raspberry tones, leading to a hint of anise on the finish. Slightly lighter body and delicate tannins follow a more Italian winemaking tradition and are indicative of the 2007 harvest. Enjoy with braised or grilled beef or lamb.

Cheers y’all, and don’t forget you read about it on Green Gourmets! Thanks given to Matt Higgins for the great pictures.

When You’re Not Feeling Well

7 Apr

by Green Gourmet L

I work with kids and try to wash my hands as much as possible. But sometimes, it’s inevitable- a kid sneezes in my face. And then it’s just a matter of time before the sickness sets in. And I don’t just get a cold…when I get sick, I get REALLY sick. Last year was pneumonia, this year (as of last night) it’s strep. So I’m at home with my penicillin and my ice cream.

There are two things I always do whenever I come down with something: Healing Broth and Kefir. The broth is made with organic veggies (whatever you have on hand) and filtered/bottled water. Here’s the basic way to put it together.

Healing Broth

  • 10 cups of filtered water
  • 6 cups of chopped organic vegetables (potato, leafy greens, onion, fennel, carrots, celery, etc)
  • Fresh or dried herbs and spices (bay leaf, oregano, fennel, ginger, pepper)

Put all ingredients into a large pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for at least 4 hours. Drain and save the liquid. Cool completely and store in the fridge. I usually drink about 5-6 cups a day, it has a very warming affect.

Kefir

kefir-PlainLowfat_Full

Kefir is a fermented milk drink that has a sour effervescence to it (think buttermilk/yogurt drink). It is made from grains that are added to milk (cow, goat, sheep, soy, rice, coconut) and then left at room temperature to ferment. You can find it at most grocery stores now and in many different flavors. The nice thing about kefir is that it contains even more probiotics than yogurt, which helps with GI heath, immune function, and overall energy. It’s also important to take probiotics to add healthy bacteria back into your body when the penicillin is killing the bad bacteria.

With these two strategies, you’ll be on the mend in no time. Feel better soon and don’t forget you read about it on Green Gourmets!

Restaurant Quality Made at Home

6 Apr

by Green Gourmet L

 

 

I love to surprise myself and stretch my cooking beyond what I thought I could do. And I’m always on the hunt for new ideas and recipes to conquer. This morning, I came across a great article in the NY Times about  “Do It Yourself” recipes that look (and taste) like you were channeling a brilliant restaurant chef. I couldn’t keep these all to myself! Anyone care to take this challenge with me and make Nutella, fresh cheese, creme fraiche, and kimchi from scratch? Looks like I’ve got myself some spring projects! To see the article, click here. Enjoy your new kitchen adventure and don’t forget you read about it on Green Gourmets!

Quinoa – Another Perspective

22 Mar

by Green Gourmet K

 

Quinoa - Image from Incaorganics.com

Yesterday I noticed an interesting article in the New York Times about how the popularity of quinoa (KEEN-wa) in America and Europe has been a boon for Bolivian farmers but has also caused the price of the grain to be out of reach for many in the country, who rely on it as a staple.  Now many in this region are relying on less expensive, and often nutritionally deficient foods, some of which are most likely from U.S. sources.  Quinoa has a relatively high protein content (14-18%), compared to other seed/grains, and it is loaded with amino acids and minerals.  It is also a great alternative for those on a gluten-free diet.  These characteristics have made it very popular in the U.S. and Europe.

 

Image from Bob's Red Mill site.

I found the conundrum the article presents very thought-provoking and it was difficult to write about this topic.   I have mixed feelings about this and I would guess many of you do as well.  Obviously, L and I are very interested in eating locally when we can, as well as eating foods with high nutritional value, and we both realize that we are fortunate to have the resources to do this.  Neither of us are rich, but by global standards, we are in a much better position than many and we should be grateful for the luxury of being able to choose what we eat.   Americans can choose to buy quinoa, jasmine rice, couscous, or whatever grain we want, it’s all there in your local grocery store.  This article was a great reminder that such a wide range of choices is not available to everyone, that we are the exception and our choices will affect others.

What do you all think?  Will you reconsider buying quinoa?

Now just to complicate matters, here’s a roundup of some of the interwebs best quinoa recipes:

 

Lemon-scented Quinoa Salad from 101 Cookbooks

 

Quinoa Cloud Cookies from 101 Cookbooks

Mexican-style Quinoa Salad by SummerTomato

Quinoa Turkey Burgers by ChefMom

Spiced Courgette, Quinoa and Apricot Salad from Essentially Healthy Food

Orange Quinoa Muffins by Gluten Free Gobsmacked

Whole Grain Quinoa Bread by Chef In You

It’s Chicken Week- Break it Down!

21 Feb

by Green Gourmet L

Photo by nydailynews.com
Photo from nydailynews.com

It’s no secret that chicken has gotten more expensive. And if you are attempting to buy the organic, free range, no-hormone, cage-free, Certified Humane chicken, you DEFINITELY want to get the most for your money. At Green Gourmets, we don’t eat a lot of meat, but when we do we like to get meat from local farmers that has been raised in a humane way. If you haven’t already watched this documentary, Food Inc. really makes you think about the kinds of food that you’re buying and the agriculture industry in the US. It definitely made me think twice.

So back to chicken…you’ve probably heard that buying the whole chicken is the best way to spend your money. This is absolutely true, but can be daunting for new cooks. Now that you’ve brought your local/organic/expensive chicken home, how the heck do you cut it? The Green Gourmets are here to help!

Chicken “Break it Down” 101

  1. Rinse your chicken and remove any parts from the inner cavity (sometimes found in a bag). You can save these parts for stock or soup if you like!
  2. Stand the chicken up on your cutting board and place your knife on the right side of the backbone. *Note: You can tell where the backbone is since it usually has the little neck flap hanging down. If you still can’t tell, put your hand on the outside and feel. The backbone side is hard and the breast side is meaty. Cut along the backbone to the bottom of the chicken.
  3. Repeat on the left side of the backbone. If you are nervous about using a knife (or your knife isn’t sharp enough), you can use kitchen shears to cut it out. You can save the backbone in the freezer for your stock.
  4. Flip your chicken over to the other side. Cut off the leg and thigh in the natural divide between the bottom of the breast and the top of the thigh. Repeat with the other side.
  5. You may also choose to separate the leg from the thigh. There is a natural juncture at the top of the leg, where the leg meets the thigh. 
  6. You may choose to remove the wing (you can save this for later to make buffalo wings if you like!)
  7. Cut the breast away from the breast bone. You can choose to leave the breast in one piece or cut in half. If cutting in half, angle the knife across the breast about 1 1/2 inches below the thickest portion. 

 

This will give you 8 pieces: 2 legs, 2 thighs, 4 breasts (or 2 breasts and 2 breast/wing pieces)

Give yourself a pat on the back (after you wash your hands), since this is a great basic butchery skill to have. Stay tuned this week for recipes that use the whole chicken and specific chicken pieces and don’t forget you read about it on Green Gourmets!