Archive for April, 2012

17
Apr
12

To juice or not to juice?

The wheatgrass shot from Puree Juice Bar, Bethesda, is the least-disgusting wheatgrass juice I've ever tasted.

After watching the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” Mr. X-sXe ran out and bought a juicer. This purchase was a point of contention, since he tends to get obsessed with one food craze, only to eventually abandon it for the next best thing (see Kombucha, Yonanas, yogurt-making).

A couple months later, I’m still undecided on whether the juicer was a good idea. On the upside, it’s inspired us to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into our diets. There are green veggies I don’t love eating that I will happily drink. But most of the roughage is purged, so you lose an important benefit from eating fresh produce. I can’t help but think of my immigrant parents tsk-tsking at the amount of waste. (gardeners: the leftovers make a good compost.)

As for juicing as a weight-loss solution, we haven’t been use our juices as meal replacements so much as supplements. In “Fat, Sick,” the guys go on a crash diet, drinking only juice for months. I’m way too into my solids to give them up.

Our green mocktail. See recipe below.

Back to Mr. X-sXe’s adventures in juicing. In a misguided attempt to be healthy, his first recipe involved Brussels sprouts, onions, kale, carrots, and asparagus. DO NOT DO EVER MAKE THIS, UNLESS IT’S IN THE NAME OF REVENGE. This “juice” stank up the entire house, literally, but he drank it anyway. Afterwards, sulfuric fumes emanated from his pores.

Since then, our rule-of-thumb has been this: don’t juice onions or cruciferous veggies. The key to tastiness seems to be adding a sweet base to blend with other ingredients.  You can try sticking with similar color groupings. For example:

Green juice:

  • Green apples
  • Spinach or chard or kale
  • Cucumber

Red juice:

  • Beets
  • Red apples
  • Strawberries

Orange juice:

  • Oranges
  • Carrots
  • Mango
  • Ginger (use sparingly)

This recipe below is a modification of the green juice. It’s really tasty–surprisingly, there are no odd flavors reminding you that you’re drinking something healthy. The fennel is not overpoweringly licorice-y, while the mint leaves a clean feeling in your mouth. “Even the burps taste good,” Mr. X-sXe commented.

Green Mocktail Recipe

  • 1 bulb fennel (2.50 for 2 bulbs at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • 6 granny smith apples
  • 1 package fresh mint leaves, stems removed
  • 1 package fresh pineapple (at least 1 pound): cheaper if you buy an entire fresh pineapple for about $3 and let it ripen for a few days
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 limes (rind and white part cut off)
  • Kosher salt for the rims, if you wanna pimp it out

PS: If you can’t be bothered to buy a juicer, try Puree in downtown Bethesda. They have some really delicious concoctions. Their juices don’t come cheap, so we tend to go for the stuff we can’t make at home, like the wheatgrass shot or orange lassi (not a yogurt drink), which is so rich that it goes down like a dessert.

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11
Apr
12

What the hell are canelés?

They’re not as fetishized as macarons, as common as croissants, or as dunkable as madeleines. But they do hail from France (the Bordeaux region, specifically). And they are worth introducing to your taste buds.

Canelés are basically baked custards that looked like they popped out of a tiny 70s jello mold.

They haven’t been on my radar for a long time. I rarely (never?) see them at DC-area French bakeries. The last time I found these was in the Trader Joe’s frozen case. Those ate like rubber. (Aside: I’m guessing that chewy texture is authentic to canelés and comes from the special baking mold they use. I just don’t like it. See my rant on mochi.)

Then last week, Smack was featured on a recent Tasting Table email. They described theirs as having a special crunch. I was willing to take a risk, ordering an assortment of 25: plain, lemon, chocolate-dipped. (They’ll deliver them to your door for an extra $6.)

When I emailed Smack about leaving the box at my front door, they were concerned about the canelés losing their crunch if exposed to the whims of the weather. This company is definitely a labor of love. Not just because of their concern with the quality, but also the presentation. The caneles come immaculately packaged in a gift box with a giant bow.

BTW, they were spot on about the importance of the crunch. That’s what made these little babies so good. They were just sweet enough, fragrant with vanilla and rum. The dark chocolate ones were the best. Tip: after refrigeration they lose their crunch around day 3, so order only what you can eat while fresh.

03
Apr
12

The DC cheesecake truck

In a few short years, DC’s gone from having only dirty-water dog trucks to no less than 40 types of roving foodmobiles. One of them, the Sweetz Cheesecake Truck, sells only its namesake. That’s pretty ballsy when you consider how polarizing cheesecake is.

These strawberry and lemon-blueberry cheesecakes survived a Metro trip and car ride home.

Chances are, you know someone who doesn’t do cheesecake because it’s too rich—or they hate cream cheese—or both.  Let’s consider the usual suspects: Cheesecake Factory is the Ben & Jerry’s of cheesecakes* as far as density, so it can take a couple sittings to finish a single piece.

Meanwhile, Junior’s is the gold standard of the classic cheesecake but again, it’s not exactly light fare. This is probably why cheesecake is dessert anathema to even the most dedicated sugar addicts.

These individual cheesecakes from the Cheesecake Truck, however, are the antithesis of the heavy cheesecake. Lots of air whipped into the cake keeps things light. Depending on which flavor your get, it’s sitting on a chocolate cookie crumb or graham-type crust. Each is about 3” in diameter—intimidating at first, until you realize how easily your fork sinks into it. Pretty soon, you’ve polished off one on your own.

Flavors vary every day/season. I tried the black forest, strawberry, and lemon-blueberry. The black forest (chocolate, cherries, chocolate-cookie base) was my favorite. It didn’t last long enough to make it into the photo.

*Ben & Jerry’s has very little air in their ice cream.