by Borderstan.com June 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm 0

From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.

"Chocolate"

Chocolate, anyone? (Namita Koppa)

I don’t know what the weather gods were thinking, but apparently as soon as the summer solstice descended upon Borders tan, the temperature climbed up too. It is HOT out there, guys! While beer is flowing here and here and here, sometimes it’s nice to sit down with something slightly more G-rated.

Like an ice cream sundae.

What better topping for an ice cream sundae than chocolate syrup?

What if I told you that the chocolate syrup you buy in the grocery store takes you 15 minutes to make in your own home?

Check this for your next summertime party:

Chocolate Syrup

(minus artificial sweeteners and preservatives)

Ingredients

  • ¾ Cup Water
  • 1½ Cup Sugar (adjust to taste!)
  • ¾ Cup Cocoa
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Corn Syrup or Maple Syrup

Directions

  1. Over medium heat, whisk all of these ingredients together until well-blended, smooth, and shiny.
  2. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving over ice cream, stirred with milk, in coffee, or with a spoon of your favorite nut butter!
  3. Other variations include making the chocolate sauce with less sugar and mixing it with a bit of Sriracha. Serve over poultry or even as a simple substitute for mole sauce.

Enjoy!

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by Borderstan.com June 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm 0

From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.

"Sweets"

The 14th & U Farmer’s Market. (Luis Gomez Photos)

This summer, I have three goals:

  1. Read more books, namely Michael Pollan’s Cooked and Mark Kurlansky’s Salt, Cod, and The Big Oyster.
  2. Spend more time in DC Public Libraries (related to #1).
  3. Only buy food in restaurants that I cannot make at home already. This is not only a budgetary measure, but a dietary one as well.

Not too strenuous a to-do list, right? I think I have a fighting chance of actually accomplishing these!

I really enjoy Sunday mornings. Like so many others in Borderstan, I head to our local farmers’ markets (Dupont and U Street) to grab a sample from Dolcezza, check to see how large duck eggs actually are, and if I’m lucky, buy a bunch of pineapple sage or chocolate mint. Lately, rather than heading out for a traditional brunch, I’ve taken to finding a nice spot in the shade, indulging in a treat from one of the markets, and reading. It is a little window of heaven before I #GSD for the upcoming week.

Both Dupont and U Street markets boast fantastic options for sweets and treats. My tastes lean toward sweet, but plenty of savory ready-made treats are available, too. Here’s my top five in no particular order:

  1. Panorama Bakery’s sticky buns – a gooey, delicious mess better than any cinnamon roll I’ve encountered. Say hello to Emmanuel, who will explain how any product Panorama bakes is made.
  2. Chocolate almond croissants from the Bonaparte Breads – enormous enough for two, maybe three people. Fresh almond filling (not the stale amaretto flavoring many croissants include), semi-sweet chocolate, and delicious butter!
  3. Keswick Creamery’s quark with fresh preserves over bread of your choice. The quark is creamy and slightly tangy, making it a delicious counter-balance to sweet, chunky preserves.
  4. Honey Greek-style yogurt from Blue Ridge Dairy Company. Rich, creamy, yummy!
  5. Pumpkin whoopie pies from Pecan Meadow. A bit surprising from a producer that sells mostly meats, but these whoopie pies are phenomenal.

My next goal may have to be Sunday night workouts to combat all this deliciousness. Bon appetit!

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by Borderstan.com May 29, 2013 at 12:00 pm 0

From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.

"Kiwi"

Get your Kiwi going. (Namita Koppa)

A month ago, I went on vacation with my extended family. Being the adventurous types, my relatives planned a two week jaunt across the Pacific to New Zealand, or Aotearoa in Māori.

It was the best holiday I’ve taken in a long, long time — beautiful scenery, adventure sports, glacial rivers an unbelievable crystal blue, and lots (and I mean LOTS) of furry sheep. Other than feeding a lamb, which rendered me emotionally unable to eat the famous New Zealand lamb for the remainder of the trip, I happily indulged in all kinds of goodies.

From my American POV, some of the food there was just kind of weird. An ice cream flavor called the hokey-pokey (you know you wanna sing)? Vegemite? Cookies called Afghans? A tropical fruit with slightly gushy insides called feijoa?

Some things there were downright party-in-my-mouth material. Green-lipped mussels, which our kind chef steamed to absolutely perfection. Avocados, similar to Haas but with a slightly different, equally as buttery flavor.

Wine, wine, and more wine which my family sampled every single evening. Kumara bread, made from the Kiwi version of the sweet potato. Divine dairy products courtesy of New Zealand’s most prosperous industry.

To avoid the disappointment of returning to a regular schedule, I’ve been making dishes at home that remind me of this trip. Inspired by both avocados and summertime, this has been a staple in my kitchen. Kia mākona!

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½- ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Use as a dip, spread, or sauce with pasta.

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by Borderstan.com May 15, 2013 at 12:00 pm 0

From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.

"Burger"

Get ready for Memorial Day with Namita’s Veggie Burger. (Namita Koppa)

I recently received a gift from my Mom. Upon hearing about it, my best friend said, “Oh… she LOVES you.” He’s right, but that’s beside the point.

Wrapped in love and nestled in sheaths of paper stuffing were two timely gifts: a 10 lb. bag of basmati rice and a new George Foreman Grill.

I nearly cried. You see, I had lost a prior model of George a few years ago to old age. With it, the opportunity to grill in my tiny studio apartment died too. Now, though, we’re back in action!!

Naturally, I’ve been grilling everything: carrots, lettuce, cheese sandwiches, bananas, mushrooms, tomatoes, and whatever else the grill will hold. With Memorial Day weekend coming up, I’ve been thinking a lot about burgers and BBQs, preferably near a pool and 80° sunshine.

Making veggie burgers can be complex and messy. Unlike meat burgers, the veggie burger requires careful proportions of ingredients; it can go from too dry to too wet in no time whatsoever. In the past, I’ve tried to make them at home, only to realize that 1) they will never be as delicious as my mother’s and 2) adding lots of flavors and ingredients doesn’t help. At base, these burgers only require a few ingredients: beans or lentils, rice or couscous, shredded vegetables, and a little bit of spice. Just KISS — Keep It Simple, Stupid.

The night George II arrived, I made these bean burgers using the meager contents of my kitchen. They are simple and easy to make. I hope you enjoy, play around with the recipe if you like, and come up with some delicious veggie burger recipes of your own!

Lima Bean-Carrot-Rice Burgers

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 2 cups cooked lima beans
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup cooked wild rice or brown rice or white rice
  • 2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • Pinch chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Sauté cumin seeds, onion, chili powder, and carrot in olive oil on medium heat. When the onion is translucent and carrots have softened, add lima beans and water. Stir the mixture once. Allow the water to evaporate and remove from heat.
  2. Using a fork, mash half the mixture (not an exact science! You just want about half the lima beans to be mashed). Stir in rice, salt, and pepper.
  3. Using your hands, shape the mixture into 6 to 8 burgers. Place in a tray and refrigerate for at least an hour. To cook, allow burgers to sit at room temperature for five minutes. Grill or pan-fry in 1 tsp. oil.
  4. Serve in hamburger buns or lettuce wraps. Delicious topped with a little sour cream and hot sauce.

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by Borderstan.com January 9, 2013 at 2:00 pm 0

"Drauglis"

Art Drauglis’ Langdon Wood Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup. (Art Drauglis)

From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.

Author’s Note: At Borderstan.com, you’ll always find the latest food & drink news from writers who actually reside and eat in our neighborhood. That’s why we’re giving you the opportunity to get to know some of the culinary geniuses behind Borderstan’s food businesses. 

Borderstan: What is the name of your business and its mission?

Drauglis: Langdon Wood Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup. Our mission is to change your breakfast. We take a staple and traditional product and give it a distinct aftertaste of awesome.

"Drauglis"

Langdon Wood Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup. (Art Drauglis)

Borderstan: Tell us about yourself! How did you conceive of the idea for your business? Where do you source your ingredients from?

Drauglis: I bought a home whiskey-aging kit which included a small cask. After aging the spirits in it I wondered what else I could do with the cask. I  had heard of others using barrels to age maple syrup and thought I would give it a go. After a successful test,  I decided to scale up the project and give the final product a local twist. I knew a distiller (Catoctin Creek Distilling Company) in Virginia and some maple farmers in Pennsylvania, so I knew I could make it work.

Borderstan: Where can we find your goodies in Borderstan? 

Drauglis: Pleasant Pops store on Florida Ave NW and Smucker Farms on 14th Street.

Borderstan: What’s your favorite part of being the head honcho?

Drauglis: Knowing that I am responsible for spreading liquid joy across the land.

Borderstan: Where’s your favorite place to eat/drink in the Borderstan neighborhood?

Drauglis: Churchkey/Birch & Barley, Amsterdam Falafel and Cocova.

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by Borderstan.com January 2, 2013 at 9:00 am 0

"Groh"

Sam Groh of GrohNola. (Namita Koppa)

From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.

Author’s Note: At Borderstan.com, you’ll always find the latest food & drink news from writers who actually reside and eat in our neighborhood. That’s why we’re giving you the opportunity to get to know some of the culinary geniuses behind Borderstan’s food businesses.

Borderstan: What is the name of your business and its mission?

Groh: The name of my business is GrohNola, which is a local DC granola company. It all stems from my last name “Groh” (pronounced ‘grow-nola’). My main reason for starting this business is to provide people with a healthy yet nutritional snack, with only a little bit of sugar. I want people to appreciate quality snacks and put something good in their body.

Granola should be enjoyed by every single person, including children. It has become a huge consumer product within the past couple of years. I would like to make a change with the current granola market and also develop another market who become GrohNola eaters.

Borderstan: Tell us about yourself! How did you conceive of the idea for your business?

Groh: I started in the food business when I was 16 years old. I worked in kitchens during my summer and winter breaks of high school and college. I have always loved food and wanted to be a part of the food industry. I conceived my idea when I got into running and leading a healthier lifestyle about 2.5 years ago.

I joined several run clubs and after the runs, people would go to bakeries for cupcakes and other sweet desserts. I just could not eat those sweet desserts right after my run. I found a random recipe for granola and started making it myself to eat after the runs. The recipe has changed and developed over time, and now has become what I currently serve.

Borderstan: Why granola? Where do you source your ingredients from?

Groh: Granola is something which is filling, yet not heavy. It tastes good in numerous ways (yogurt / frozen yogurt, ice cream, milk, straight out of your hand). I source as many ingredients locally as possible, Right now I source maple syrup and honey locally, and I am working on sourcing more.

Granola is a difficult thing to source locally because it involves nuts and seeds, which mostly come from the Midwest or California. I expect to have more local ingredients within the next month, as I have spoken with some farmers and even a Reverend who is working on teaching children how to grow seeds.

Borderstan: Where’s your favorite place to eat/drink in the neighborhood?

Groh: My favorite places to eat in the neighborhood are Hank’s Oyster Bar and Bar Pilar. I absolutely love seafood and simple food!

Borderstan: What are your impressions of DC’s innovation/start-up scene?

Groh: I love it! Think First Local DC is great, as I participated in their first Start-up market on H Street about three weeks ago. I made a lot of different connections and everyone was so friendly and promoting for each other. Stacey Price did a great job of organizing and managing all the different food vendors.

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by Borderstan.com December 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1,043 0

"Groh"

Sam Groh’s local food business, GrohNola. (Namita Koppa)

From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.

Author’s Note: At Borderstan.com, you’ll always find the latest food & drink news from writers who actually reside and eat in our neighborhood. That’s why we’re giving you the opportunity to get to know some of the culinary geniuses behind Borderstan’s food businesses.

Borderstan: What is the name of your business and its mission?

Groh: The name of my business is GrohNola, which is a local DC granola company. It all stems from my last name “Groh” (pronounced ‘grow-nola’). My main reason for starting this business is to provide people with a healthy yet nutritional snack, with only a little bit of sugar. I want people to appreciate quality snacks and put something good in their body.

Granola should be enjoyed by every single person, including children. It has become a huge consumer product within the past couple of years. I would like to make a change with the current granola market and also develop another market who become GrohNola eaters.

Borderstan: Tell us about yourself! How did you conceive of the idea for your business?

Groh: I started in the food business when I was 16 years old. I worked in kitchens during my summer and winter breaks of high school and college. I have always loved food and wanted to be a part of the food industry. I conceived my idea when I got into running and leading a healthier lifestyle about 2.5 years ago.

I joined several run clubs and after the runs, people would go to bakeries for cupcakes and other sweet desserts. I just could not eat those sweet desserts right after my run. I found a random recipe for granola and started making it myself to eat after the runs. The recipe has changed and developed over time, and now has become what I currently serve.

"Groh"

Sam Groh of GrohNola. (Namita Koppa)

Borderstan: Why granola? Where do you source your ingredients from?

Groh: Granola is something which is filling, yet not heavy. It tastes good in numerous ways (yogurt / frozen yogurt, ice cream, milk, straight out of your hand). I source as many ingredients locally as possible, Right now I source maple syrup and honey locally, and I am working on sourcing more.

Granola is a difficult thing to source locally because it involves nuts and seeds, which mostly come from the Midwest or California. I expect to have more local ingredients within the next month, as I have spoken with some farmers and even a Reverend who is working on teaching children how to grow seeds.

Borderstan: Where’s your favorite place to eat/drink in the neighborhood?

Groh: My favorite places to eat in the neighborhood are Hank’s Oyster Bar and Bar Pilar. I absolutely love seafood and simple food!

Borderstan: What are your impressions of DC’s innovation/start-up scene?

Groh: I love it! Think First Local DC is great, as I participated in their first Start-up market on H Street about three weeks ago. I made a lot of different connections and everyone was so friendly and promoting for each other. Stacey Price did a great job of organizing and managing all the different food vendors.

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by Borderstan.com December 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm 0

"mor.sl"

Recipes and grocery deliveries. (Screen Capture vourtesy of mor.sl)

From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.

Author’s Note: At Borderstan.com, you’ll always find the latest food & drink news from writers who actually reside and eat in our neighborhood. That’s why we’re giving you the opportunity to get to know some of the culinary geniuses behind Borderstan’s food businesses.

"mor.sl"

Mili Mittal, founder of mor.sl. (Courtesy of Mili Mittal)

Meet Mor.sl and Mili Mittal, its founder, as part of our culinary entrepreneur series in Borderstan.

1. What is mor.sl?

mor.sl is an integrated recipe recommendations and grocery delivery platform. We’ve developed a smart algorithm that learns your tastes, allergies, and cooking skill level and recommends recipes/menus that will work for you. You can then click a button and have the ingredients for those recipes delivered to your door. No more last-minute grocery runs, tedious list making, or default greasy take-out; just delicious, doable cooking at your fingertips.

2. How did you come up with the idea?

Cooking and food were always a huge part of my childhood. When I “grew up,” though, I found that it fell to the wayside. As a management consultant and small business owner in DC, I didn’t have much time to cook at home. Plus, as a dancer, I was in the studio all the time; I felt that I was healthy because I wasn’t putting on pounds. When I went to business school, I quit dancing but I didn’t quit eating out. For the first time, I started to see the effects of my poor diet (both on my body and my wallet), and realized I needed to eat better. I wanted to cook at home, but found it really overwhelming. I quickly realized it was a challenge that my whole peer group faced. mor.sl was born out of this need.

3. How does mor.sl relate to other food companies?

mor.sl sits as a technology layer between consumers, recipe content creators, and food suppliers. Our model is a partnership model — we source the best recipes from around the web from our partners like Food52, Williams-Sonoma, and even local bloggers like Weekly Greens. We suggest these recipes to you based on your tastes and preferences.

Then, we go a step further to help you procure the ingredients from the suppliers that best meet your needs. As you add recipes to your cart, we build a shopping list that you can modify as needed. Once you’ve decided what you need, we work with our local partners to have the ingredients delivered to your door. This year we’re partnering with one local delivery company to get groceries delivered to the DC-metro area. They source their food from Whole Foods and over 100 local farms and producers to get the best ingredients to your door.

4. Where is your favorite spot to eat in Borderstan?

The way to my heart is a dinner at Sushi Taro! But since that’s really out of my budget these days, I’ll settle for a vermicelli bowl at Pho 14.

5. What’s your favorite part of being the head honcho?

I love having my hands in every part of the business — from marketing to strategy to product management, biz dev and fundraising. Not only do I get to flex my left and right brain every day, but I get to spend every day figuring out how each of these pieces will work together to build a successful product that our customers love.

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by Borderstan.com November 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm 0

"innovators"

Culinary Innovators in the neighborhood. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.

DC gets no love sometimes.

I get it. Our industry is the government. Chances are that if you reside here, you either work directly for the government, or are subcontracted to the hundredth power by somebody who does. Even the metro runs on your schedule! ETM (Extreme Track Maintenance) occurs nearly every government holiday, this past Veteran’s Day notwithstanding.

A girlfriend of mine recently jumped ship from the District for the gorgeous landscapes of San Francisco. During our last phone call filled with details of her immediate love of the Bay Area (no doubt her honeymoon phase), she threw the gauntlet.

“People in Washington are Not Creative”

I had to be careful not to take personal offense.  The truth is that her perspective is easy to believe. Fashion trends in DC reoccur so frequently that I sometimes feel like I should sell my middle-school wardrobe at vintage prices to make a pretty penny. The morning metro commute is filled with grays, blacks, browns, and navys of every hue. Happy Hours are filled with people talking shop, talking politics, talking business, talking about things that are not (by stereotype) creative.

DC, though, does have a flavor of its own. There are all types of people here, and to find them, all you really need to do is start a conversation. We’re not just high-priced restaurants and “American” cuisine. We’re also creators, filmmakers, chefs, performers, and guerrilla artists. There is a lot more going on beneath the surface, and more often than not, it can be found at the Sunday drum circle in Meridian Hill Park.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be using this column to refute my friend, gastronomically speaking. By tapping into Borderstan’s culinary innovators’ tremendous talent; this column will focus in introducing YOU to a neighborhood food entrepreneur.

As our local food and beverage scene grows (have you SEEN the new Matchbox at 14th and T Streets NW? cannot believe those divine cinnamon rolls will soon be a mere three blocks away!),  it’s nice to know who is cooking what, what our options are as consumers and how local businesses support our wallets, our environment, and our health.

Stay hungry and stay tuned!

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by Borderstan.com November 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm 0

"Diwali"

Celebrate Diwali with a Ricotta Rasmalai recipe. (Namita Koppa)

From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.

Dear President Obama, Kelly Kapoor and Dwight Schrute,

Thank you.

Because of you, Indians virtually everywhere no longer have to explain the intricacies of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights marking the New Year.

Because of you, a little light has entered the darkness in this little Borderstani world.

And, because of you, we all can move past speaking of demon killings and Rama’s return and go straight to the important stuff: Diwali sweets!

Unlike my dear grandmothers and aunties in years past, most of us simply don’t have time to toil away on authentic mithai creation. My own mother, who is quite the cook, abandoned the deep-frying and dough-rolling techniques of generations past and instead taught my sister and me the joys of efficient cooking.

Via my family, here is a super easy recipe for ricotta rasmalai.

May this year be filled with light, love, health, happiness and prosperity for us all. Happy Diwali!

Ingredients:

  • 15 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
    1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 pint half-and-half (regular or fat-free, as per your preference)
  • 1 pinch saffron (yes, a bit pricey, but completely worth it for this holiday!)
  • ¼ tsp green cardamom seeds
  • 2 tbsp crushed almonds
  • 2-3   tbsp crushed pistachios

Instructions:

Syrup:

Thicken the half and half by simmering over low heat for few minutes.

Add 1 cup sugar, cardamom, rose water and saffron strands, to the half and half. Heat for a few minutes and allow them cool.

Rasmalai:

Mix ¼ cup of sugar with the Ricotta cheese using a spatula.

Using a muffin pan, place two big spoonfuls of the cheese mixture into each cup. Carefully shake the muffin pan side to side to ensure each rasmalai is level.

Bake at 350* for approximately 40 minutes, or until the rasmalais are set. To check for doneness, put a toothpick into one of the rasmalais. If it comes out clean, they are done!

Cool the rasmalais to room temperature and then remove and place in a big bowl. You can shape them into a bowl.

Cover rasmalais with the syrup you made earlier, and sprinkle almonds and pistachios on top. Allow the syrup to soak for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve hot or cold.

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by Borderstan.com October 31, 2012 at 2:00 pm 0

From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.

The Hurricane was created at Pat O’Brien’s bar in New Orleans.  In the 1940s, some liqueurs – whiskey, scotch, and bourbon – were in very short supply. Rum, however, was readily accessible and purchasing large quantities of rum allowed bartenders access to other liqueurs. To use up this surplus of rum, Pat O’Brien created the Hurricane and served it in a glass modeled after the hurricane lamp. The cocktail itself has no real connection to the hurricane weather phenomenon, other than originating in New Orleans, where hurricanes occur.

"hurricane"

Pat O’Brien in New Orleans. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1/4 oz grenadine
  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz light rum
  • 1/2 oz Bacardi® 151 rum
  • 1 oz amaretto almond liqueur
  • 1 oz triple sec
  • grapefruit juice
  • pineapple juice

Directions

Fill a hurricane glass (or any tall glass) 3/4 full with ice.
Pour all the alcohols in first, then follow with equal parts of grapefruit and pineapple juice.
Cheers!

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by Borderstan.com October 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1,644 0

From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.

"Gourds"

It is a jungle out there. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Weird shapes, strange sizes, seeds, stringy innards…it’s a jungle out there.

Gourds. For some of us, it’s a comforting time of year for biceps and bellies. Lugging these fall fruits from the market to home can easily bring us a fraction closer to Michelle Obama’s amazing upper body musculature, crockpot chilis, jack-o-lanterns and pies.

For others, looking at the oddities is downright confusing. How do I choose a squash? What does it taste like? Can they all be used in pumpkin pie?

Unfortunately, not all gourds are created equal. Here’s the skinny on some popular, nutritious, delicious gourds:

Butternut

  • Bottom-heavy hourglass shape with a cream-to-tan peel and orange flesh
  • Thick flesh, few seeds, easy to peel with a sharp knife
  • Sweetest of all the winter squashes
  • Easy to roast, purée, mash or sauté

Acorn

  • Round shape, dark green skin
  • Tender, yellow-orange flesh
  • Very easy to roast, steam, bake, sauté, mash or stuff

Spaghetti

  • Oblong shape, pale, yellowish skin
  • Flesh composed of strands of squash, which can be used as a replacement for pasta
  • Mildly flavored
  • Easy to steam and serve with sauce of choice

Kabocha

  • Large, roundish shape, dark green skin with white and yellow spots
  • Flesh is sweet, soft, and delicious
  • Peel is very tough and difficult to cut, so I recommended cutting the squash into slices and leaving the peel on during the cooking process
  • Excellent for roasting and baking; included in South Asian and Asian curries and soups
  • For you Thai X-ing fans, this is the squash that is used in their famous pumpkin curry

Cinderella (with a little help from Fairy Godmother, of course)

  • Actually a family of heirloom pumpkins, including the cheese, Rouge Vif d’Etampes, Red Kuri and others
  • Sweet, sweet, sweet…these are made for pumpkin pie
  • Very versatile – roast, boil, mash, purée and serve with sweet or savory seasonings

Of course, there are countless types of pumpkins and winter squashes out there in the world, so don’t be afraid to explore Borderstan’s offerings. My personal favorite is the beautiful Blue Hubbard squash, which often is shaped like a famous movie character’s head. Come across this beauty, you may.

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by Borderstan.com August 22, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1,348 1 Comment

From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.

As we’re approaching the home stretch of summer, our local farmers markets seem filled with piles of peaches, corn, and basil. A few years ago, a friend remarked on her disdain for basil but her present desire to pair her pasta with something other than tomato or Bolognese sauce had us experimenting with pesto.

Our traditional idea of pesto ingredients is quite static: basil, olive oil, garlic, salt, pine nuts, and parmesan. The history of this green sauce points to a slightly greater degree of culinary creativity, though. According to The Nibble, Ligurian chefs from Italy occasionally toss in some butter, a soft cheese, or tomatoes to alter the flavor and texture.

For my pesto-averse friend, however, this history is of no help. Traditional Italian pesto firmly places basil as a key ingredient, and its derivations are too slight to suit her taste buds. After much conversation, she developed a handy template for pesto creation. As summer dwindles and we approach bunches of autumn and winter greens, this easy recipe allows eaters to enjoy pesto at any time of year.

"Pesto"

Arugula spinach pistachio pesto. (Namita Koppa)

Mallory’s Open-Ended Pesto

Ingredients

  • 2 – 2 ½ cups greens (basil, arugula, spinach, kale, etc)
  • ¼ – ½ cup nuts, roasted (pine nuts, peanuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, etc)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot or ½ medium white onion
  • 2-6 cloves garlic, depending on your preference
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ cup cheese (preferably a hard cheese such as Parmesan, (ecorino, Toscana, etc.), optional
  • ½ -1 cup additional herbs or cooked vegetables, optional
Directions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend to a smooth consistency.
  2. Serve with pasta, over potatoes, or use as a condiment on sandwiches.

Buon appetito!

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by Borderstan.com August 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1,194 2 Comments

"Sorbet"

Sorbet! (Namita Koppa)

From Namita Koppa. Email her at namita[AT]borderstan.com.

Summer fruits are the best, aren’t they? Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, peaches, plums, nectarines, and cherries are all available in abundance these days, perfect complements to backyard BBQs and lazy Saturdays by the pool.

Like most of you, these fruits were an important part of my childhood and the simple passage of seasons. When I was growing up, my sister and I would scoop out the middle of strawberries, fill them with sugar, let them sit for about 10 minutes, and then stuff the entire fruits into our mouths. Delicious! Probably not the healthiest thing to consume, but a tasty snack for our jawful of sweet teeth.

My mom would make peach crisps complete with oatmeal streusel topping, which we would greedily demolish with Breyer’s vanilla ice cream. Late summers were filled with trips to the Blue Ridge Mountains, where we’d pick blueberries with our friends, eating them along the way until our tongues were stained a beautiful Duke blue. Around the holidays, we would bake plum cakes, dust them with powdered sugar, and give them to our teachers and postmen as gifts.

Sorbet: Easy to Make

In the last few years, however, my sister and I have both expanded our culinary horizons. As she has delved into the great world of canning and preserving, I’ve happily received giant jars of homemade strawberry-rosemary jam and blueberry-ginger preserves. When she (or any friends!) pops into my place, I’m able to share with her ice creams and sorbets.

With the temperature rising in DC and National Ice Cream Month having just ended, this frozen delicacy is an easy way to beat the heat. You may think of jaunting off to Pitango or Dolcezza for a lovely cup or cone, but I’d like to introduce a simple alternative if your ice cream habit is more an addiction than occasional indulgence: homemade sorbet.

A simple summer sorbet is an incredibly easy creation. All you need is fruit, sugar, water, and a blender. A beautiful thing about fruit sorbets is that you can use use fruits that are very ripe or even slightly overripe, as they yield the sweetest flavor.

How to Create Unbeatable Texture

If you’d like to step it up a notch for unbeatable texture, you can purchase and use an ice cream machine, but it’s not necessary.

  1. Make sure your fruit is refrigerated prior to making this! Wash, pit, and destem your fruits. You probably want to use about 2 pints of fruit per quart of sorbet.
  2. To your cut fruit, add sugar (1/4-1/2 cup, depending on how sweet you’d like it), a little water (1/4 – 1/3 cup) and let it macerate (rest!) in a bowl for about 10 minutes. If you’d like a little kick, you can also add one minibottle of your favorite liquor or ¼ cup wine at this point.
  3. Put everything in your blender and puree! If you’re seed-averse, you can run the blended fruit through a sieve. Otherwise, churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions if you are using one. If you’re not, go to step 4.
  4. Freeze. Scoop out, enjoy.

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by Borderstan.com July 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1,120 0

From Ashley Lusk. Check out her blog, Metropoetrylis. Find her on Twitter @arlusk or email her at ashley[AT]borderstan.com.

Author’s Note: At Borderstan.com you’ll always get food news from writers who actually eat in our neighborhood. They know where to find the newest rooftop bars, the brunch with unlimited Mimosas, and the best vegetarian options in the city. That’s why we’re giving you a chance to get to know the writers who bring you the best eats Borderstan has to offer. So, grab your fork and take a seat at our table.

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"Namita Koppa"

Namita Koppa is one of Borderstan’s food writers. (Courtesy Namita Koppa)

Namita Koppa is a food writer for Borderstan.

What’s the best resto in DC? Why?

Dino’s in Cleveland Park. I was introduced to it a few years ago during Restaurant Week, and now I go back every single year at the same time. The food is delicious, locally sourced unless it’s straight from Italy, and to my palate, as tasty on the tongue as anything I’ve had in Italy.

Describe your food writing style; what kind of story are you looking to tell?

The stories I like to share are about people, about connection and about food as nourishment for our lives. I love food, making friends and the quirkiness of everyday life. For me, food is very intimate and, therefore, a perfect excuse to cultivate relationships and shared adventures. Food is a tie that binds – anyone, everyone in the world can relate to cuisine, whether it’s gourmet Kobe-style beef or delicious, humble, homemade lentils.

Which food writers/photographers are inspiring you right now? Who do you look to for food news?

 My first hat tip goes to my very talented friend Sala, who authors Veggie Belly. Because I know Sala in real life, I can also see how her blog represents whom she is in so many ways. Her photographs and recipes are gorgeous, and much like her, very graceful in placement, presentation and purpose.

Locally, I regularly check Alicia Sokol’s Weekly Greens. I had the pleasure of randomly meeting her in a Mt. Pleasant coffee shop over a year ago. I was quite taken by her commitment to public health both in her career and personal life, and how effortlessly she seemed to choose kale over cakes (a battle that would be difficult for me!).

Other writers and photographers I follow include Nick at Macheesmo, Hannah at Honey and Jam and Tara at Seven Spoons. How can you not love a blog called Macheesmo?! I love how Nick breaks down his recipes in an easy-to-follow format, plus I find him hilarious. Hannah’s writing and photos about the seasons take me back to my childhood in South Carolina. Tara’s website has been active since 2005, and it’s incredible to read her stories as she transitioned from a lady with a boyfriend to a mother with two children. Her photography is beautiful as well, and she has a way of chronicling life events with exactly the right recipe.

What is your version of comfort food?

I grew up in a South Indian family in South Carolina, so my staples for no-good-very-bad-days are curd rice with tender mango pickle, savory pongal and peach cobbler. Nothing else will satisfy.

What is the cooking tool you can’t live without?

Easy – my rice cooker with attached steamer basket. I’ve made everything from bao to cakes!

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