This winter, I decided to visit one of my incredibly close friends from home who currently attends the University of Maryland. We decided to meet up at Gallery Place in Washington, DC, where the Capital Metro’s red line and green line intersect. We did not make any plans or reservations, that was never our style. This is the kind of person you meet up with and adventures simply happen. As we strolled around the chilly streets of downtown DC, we shared stories of college life and got nostalgic about the simplest things, from an amazing trip to Walt Disney World during our senior year to the coffee runs we would make on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis over the summer. It was then that we stumbled upon Pitango, a store that looked out-of-place amidst the sea of sports fans pouring out of the Verizon Center. It was relatively empty and had an “old meets new” Italian charm to it.
Little did we know we would spend an hour inside this small coffee and gelato shop, trying practically everything on the menu. The service was excellent, with baristas who came with stories to share and memories to make. The coffee was incredible, bold and rich, reminding me of similar drinks in Rome and Venice. The star of the show however, was the sipping hot chocolate, a delicacy I thought only existed in Eastern Europe. The concept was simple, thick, gooey, molten, bittersweet chocolate in a cup. There are not many adjectives needed to describe how delicious it tasted, especially when accompanied by an espresso shot to keep the conversation lively.
If you are ever in the downtown DC area, whether you are there for business, leisure, or catching up with an old friend as I was, I can’t recommend Pitango enough. Their ingredients are fresh, their servers are incredibly charming, and they provide a cozy backdrop on a cold wintry night.
Please do check them out here: http://pitangogelato.com/
Prior to even setting foot in South Wales, my husband’s colleagues insisted that we eat this local delicacy called Welsh Cake. Never having heard of this dish (ok go ahead say it…did you not profess to be a gourmand?), I assumed it was a baked delicacy to be served at tea time.
So imagine my surprise when on day one at Abergavenny market I came upon a woman making fresh Welsh cakes. She was cooking them right there on a hot griddle! The golden cakes came off the griddle on to a plate and after a dusting of fine sugar were ready to be eaten. My younger daughter was so enticed that I’m positive she practically gulped them down. I got chatting with the lady making these delicacies and within moments, I had the recipe to make these delicious treats stateside. Here’s how simple it is.
1 lb self-raising flour
8 oz butter or margarine
4 oz powdered or fine sugar
4 oz dried fruit (raisins, craisins, cranberries, sultanas…take your pick)
1 whole egg
A bit of milk if needed
Take the self-raising flour in a bowl and rub the butter or margarine into it till you have a breadcrumb like consistency. Now add the sugar, dried fruit and egg to form a dough. If the dough is too tight, add a bit of milk to moisten.
Roll the dough into a 1/4″ thick circle and cut it out with a biscuit cutter.
Heat a griddle and spray with some non stick spray or swipe some butter. Now cook the cakes for 2-3 minutes on each side till golden brown. Arrange them on a plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Serve them plain or with some jam and watch them disappear 🙂
A recent issue of Oprah Magazine had a recipe for a Raspberry Buckle. A buckle? Isn’t that what appears on belts and shoes? Is that really a type of food? Yup. Not only is it a food, it is a dessert… and as a presumed dessert connoisseur, I was clueless about this genre.
The recipe was even simpler. Take some vanilla ice cream, blend it with self-raising flour and some oil, and presto, you have a cake base that gets topped with any or all of your favorite berries, gets baked for 30 minutes, and emerges as this amazing concoction to serve with coffee!
Simple, efficient and beautiful to look at. Take a look at the picture above and tell me if you agree.
Have you baked a buckle? How do you think it is similar or different to other desserts in its genre? And did you use ice-cream in your recipe or was that simply the genius of the cooking staff at Oprah Magazine?
I will keep away from new recipes and cooking magazines for a few days. Because if I continue to bake at this rate, I may not be able to buckle my belt too much longer.
To see the recipe for the amazingly simple buckle we created with blackberries, click here: