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Almond Orange Cake

One of my favorite things about the spring and summer is that everyone spends more time with friends.  I feel like summers are busy- travel, vacations, weddings, etc.  But it’s so much easier to venture out of your house (or your PJ’s) and have a drink or dinner with a friend when it’s still light out at 8pm.  With the dreaded cold weather behind us (90’s have started off the summer in DC), summer is in full swing.

As we mentioned previously, we recently bought a new house and the extra space allows us to entertain more.  It’s nice to have friends drop in for barbeque, pizza or dessert.  And when you want to throw something together in a hurry it’s always hard to find a quick dessert.  So I’ve done a little research (ahem: taste testing) for all of you, and I highly recommend this cake.

Almond Orange Cake 1

It’s not even a cake, it’s a delicious dessert that can be eaten after a meal, or a perfect breakfast with a cup of tea or coffee.  I made this over a month ago when I had some girlfriends over for a Mexican night, and I can still remember the moist and fluffy cake.  It was perfect the next morning, so it can easily be made the night before.

Almond Orange Cake 2

Almond Orange Cake
Adapted from: The Mexican Cookbook

1 cup raw almonds
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
juice from 1 large orange (about 4 tbsp)
10 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Add the almonds to the food processor, and puree them until they are a mealy mixture.

In a stand mixer, beat together butter and sugar, until smooth and fluffy.  Then beat in the eggs, pureed almonds, almond extract, vanilla extract and orange juice.  Next stir in the flour and salt, mix until it’s incorporated.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Butter or spray  an 8-inch spring form.  Pour in the better, smooth the top of the surface.  Bake the cake for 40 minutes, or until it feels spongy when gently pressed.  Remove from the oven and let stand to cool.

Prior to serving, dust with powdered sugar.

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Good-bye 2012, Hello 2013!

At the beginning of this year, I listed off some 2012 goals for Fifth Floor Kitchen- and looking back I think we did pretty good!  I’m so humbled and proud of this little space we have created, and since I’m feeling a little nostalgic about 2012, I wanted to share a handful of favorite highlights from this past year.

2012 Top 3 Recipe Posts:
1. Indian Chicken Soup
Indian Chicken Soup

2. Vegetable Coq au Vin
Vegetables au Vin with Coq 2

3. Seasoned Popcorn 2 Ways
Popcorn 2 ways

2012 Top 3 Travel Posts:
1. Bonn, Germany
2. Boston: Sam Adams Brewery Tour
3. Warsaw, Poland

Other 2012 Highlights:
1. We got married!  We had a wonderful wedding near Charlottesville, VA (check out our posts about this great city here and here) and we spent an amazing honeymoon in Phuket, Thailand (blog posts: Pt 1, Pt 2)!

2. Where else did we travel? Boston (Posts: 1, 2, 3), Philadelphia, and Baltimore.

3. Food-wise some of our personal favorites were: Cowgirl Creamery Cheese Pairing, Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese, Birthday Fruit Tart, Crunchy Fish Tacos with Chimichurri Sauce, Brazilian Fish & Shrimp Stew, Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, S’more Cookie, and Buckwheat Crêpes with Corn Salsa.  If you haven’t tried these, definitely add them to your “to-do” list for 2013!

3. Other fun stuff: Eat Write Retreat Blogger Conference, Slave-free Tomato Day, Holiday White House Tour, An Edible Mosaic Book Launch, and being part of the Food Matters Project.

4. We also started a series “Monthly Reviews”, a great way to see some of our iPhone photos and adventures we might not write about: May, June, July, August, and November.  A December one is coming up soon!

Over the course of 2012 we have had 116 posts- that’s a lot of words, photographs and recipes!

But I do love the feeling of a New Year- a fresh start, being able to look ahead towards all the new opportunities this year will bring.  We are looking forward to 2013 to continue sharing our culinary and travel adventures with you all- remember to keep up with us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram!

We wish you all a happy and healthy New Year!  Thank you so much for reading, commenting and being part of Fifth Floor Kitchen!

Warm wishes for a happy new year!

Many hugs,
Evi & Sam

Evi & Sam Wedding

*Our wedding photos were taken by our friend Meaghin Kennedy- check out some of her photos here, or her blog: These Salty Oats

Food Matters Project #8: Vegetable Coq au Vin

Another Food Matters Project post, but this recipe was chosen by us- and I was so excited! We chose this recipe since we liked how Mark Bittman took a different take on it. He suggested swapping out some of the chicken for vegetables, such as eggplant and green beans. And just like every recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook, it is delicious!  Check out everyone dishes here.

For a supper club last winter we had made coq au vin (it’s French for “rooster with wine”). It’s a rustic French recipe which calls for braising chicken with wine, mushrooms and some pork fat. The recipe which we tried was from Barefoot Contessa, and everyone cleaned their plates!

So when I was browsing The Food Matters Cookbook, I couldn’t help and notice that Mark Bittman suggested a healthier version of this dish, with the addition of more vegetables. I didn’t need to look any further, and reserved this recipe for us.

Vegetable Coq au Vin
Adapted from: The Food Matters Cookbook (page 466)

When making this dish, I added even more eggplant and green beans than the recipe called for, while decreasing the amount of chicken. The eggplant melts into the sauce, so serve this dish with a baguette! I also didn’t use as much salt or pepper, but feel free to adjust it to your taste buds. Another addition that I’d make in the future, is to add carrots- about 3-4 chopped in pieces- and add it in at the same time as the other vegetables. By making this one day in advance, the flavors mature and sink in. You can also serve it over noodles or potatoes.

2 medium eggplants
3 tbsp salt
4-6 strips of bacon, chopped
5 chicken drumsticks, bone-in & with skin
3 tbsp olive oil
4 large shallots, chopped
3/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
10 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken stock (preferable homemade)
2 cups fruity red wine (I used pinot noir)
3 bay leaves
1 lb green beans, ends trimmed
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp salted butter
1 tsp pepper

Cut the eggplant into disks, and sprinkle each disk, on each side, with salt. Allow the eggplant to rest for 20 minutes on a cutting board covered with paper towels. Then cut the eggplant disks into smaller pieces (into quarters or eighths).

In a Dutch oven or large pot, add in the bacon and cook it over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until the bacon gives up its fat and becomes crisp. This should take about 5 to 10 minutes. Then remove the bacon from the pot, and set it aside. With the pot over the burners, add the chicken. Allow it to cook, turning and rotating as necessary. Once all sides are browned, then remove the chicken from the pan.

Add in some olive oil, shallots, eggplant and mushrooms. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they being to turn brown (about 15 minutes). After about 5 minutes, stir in the garlic.

Then add the stock, wine, bay leaves, green beans and herbs. At this time, return the chicken and bacon into the pot. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the temperature and allow it to cook for about 20 minutes. The chicken should be cooked through at this point, if not, cook for another 5-10 minutes.

Next, remove the chicken from the pan and add butter to the liquid. Allow it to cook until it is reduced by half, and becomes saucy and thick. Sprinkle in pepper, or any additional salt.

If you’re making this dish ahead, refrigerate it at this point. If you’ll be eating it soon (or when you’re reheating), then add the chicken back into the pot and allow to warm up for about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. When serving, garnish the dish with parsley.

DC Fish Market

Every time I’ve driven from Virginia into DC on 395, I see the Fish Market on the right hand side of the highway, right on the water.  I’ve been meaning to visit it for almost over a year, and have heard great recommendations.  Feeling ambitious on exploring the city and taking advantage of a warm and sunny day, we decided to venture out of the house.

To enjoy the sunny day, we  decided to walk there.  There and back from the Penn Quarter area is about 3 miles, so it was a great way to walk off our lunch that we got there.

It’s a small area, but there are a lot of fish there!  It’s a little overwhelming at first to see what there is to offer- I had no idea that there were so many different kinds of shrimp (color and size).  First, we decided to walk around and explore what the fish market had to offer:

So many different varieties of shrimp!

We decided that next time, we’ll buy some of these Tiger Shrimp- they were huge!

In the end we decided to try some fried oysters and a crabcake.  The oysters were tastier, but there are many other things to try out there.  The place where we bought it from had a great lemonade-tea mixture that cooled us off for the walk home.

We didn’t end up buying anything to take home with us.  We would like to think of a menu and then buy it fresh and eat it that day.  So we’ll leave that for a future post.  Our first time there turned out great, we’ll definitely be back!

PS- Happy Birthday B* from Boston!!! Lots of love & hugs!!!

Blueberry Tart

Summer has officially arrived to Washington D.C.!  Finally!  It’s been a wonderful day of summer and warmth, just how I like it!

Although it’s been weeks since the Royal Wedding, I had made this tart for some friends that came over that night.  While we were watching this exciting event, we had a lot of little finger foods, a number of desserts, and some British drinks.

This tart was very springy-summery.  It makes a great dessert, or wonderful for a quick breakfast for the rest of the week (when you’re running out the door).  Making it with fresh blueberries would be wonderful, and the lemon zest keeps it refreshing.

Blueberry Tart
Adapted from: Sparkling Ink

3 cups of flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemon
1 stick of butter, cold & cut into small pieces
1 egg
3 cups of blueberries, frozen (or fresh)
1/2 cup sugar
4 tbsp corn starch

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.  Grate the lemon, and add the zest into the mixture.  Add in cold butter.  Mix until combined, and the mixture is crumbly.  Then add the egg, and mix some more.

Mix the blueberries, sugar and lemon juice.  Add in the corn starch and toss well.

Line the baking dish (9 x 13 inches) with parchment paper.  Take half of the dough and press it into the baking dish.  Then, sprinkle the blueberry mixture on top.  Lastly, crumble the rest of the dough over the blueberries.

Bake at 375°F for 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Cool completely and cut into bars.  This was still delicious 5 days later, so it can sit out for a while!