Parmesan Broth

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We love to make flavorful broths and stocks. We usually save all of our meat bones (chicken, steaks, the whole Thanksgiving turkey!), keep them in the freezer until we have a bunch, and then periodically make a big batch of stock. We keep it in mason jar and use it for the next few weeks to make different soups usually. One of Selim’s favorite tricks is to throw in a Parmesan rind as the stock is cooking. It adds a delicious umami depth of flavor to the stock. Well tonight, after perusing one of Smitten Kitchen’s soup recipes, he decided to just make a Parmesan broth. And it was amazing! This is so flavorful just on it’s own (we ate it plain + a crusty bread to dip in it), but would be a great place to start a soup or sauce! [Side note: the pot you cook in will be all gross and nearly impossible to clean from the residual melty cheesy bits, but it was worth it! Any suggestions??]
Parmesan Broth

(Inspired by Smitten Kitchen)
Ingredients:
  • 20 cups water
  • 2 lb Parmesan rinds
  • 1/2 of a large onion, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 2 shallots, cut into 1 in chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt to taste
Instructions:
  1. Bring the water, with all of the ingredients except the salt in it, to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for 3-4 hours.
  2. Strain through cheesecloth to remove all of the aromatics and debris. Taste and add salt as needed.
  3. Use as a base for anything you want!

Goodbye 2019!

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Happy New Year! Another year of blogging down! As I always say this time of year, I’m proud of us for keeping up with Bon Appetit Baby! for another year. With pregnancy and new parenthood, we’re still not blogging quite as much as we used to, but we’re still here! This was a big year for us, clearly. We welcomed our daughter to the world in July. We’ve learned (and are still learning) how to be parents to her. The rest of the events of the year pale in comparison to her, but we definitely ate some good food!

Speaking of, for New Year’s Eve this year, we didn’t blog our meal, but it was amazing! Selim made a stock from all manner of bones that we’ve been saving (chicken, turkey, pork ribs), cooking them down for hours with alliums, herbs, a few Asian touches (miso, fish sauce), and a couple surprise twists (loomi, cinnamon sticks). It sounds weird maybe, but the man is a genius when it comes to make unique sauces and soups. The result was the most delicious broth I think I’ve ever had! We used it as the base for a ramen that we shared with my parents and siblings for a fun New Year’s Eve dinner. I attempted ramen noodles from scratch, but didn’t quite get it right. They were fine, but I didn’t get that super chewy texture and yellowish color. They were certainly edible, but not exactly what I hoped for…

As we’ve done in previous years, we’re going to share some favorites, fun facts, and statistics from the past year of the blog. We obviously don’t write this blog for money or anything, so to be quite honest, we rarely look at our statistics except for when writing the year end review. It’s fun to see! So without further ado…

2019 Year in Review

Favorite Dishes of the Year:

♥ Ally: Pasta with Clams & SausageMaple & Mustard Pork with Shallots, & Sausages & Roasted Veggies in Agrodolce

♥ Selim: Rainbow Rice Krispie TreatsPumpkin Chip Bread, & Herby Stuffed Dates

Visitors: 

♥ 6,628 visits to the site, from 4,363 unique visitors! We’re always shocked to see this!

Nationalities of Visitors:

♥ US, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, France, Ireland, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Italy, Chile, Singapore, Japan, Turkey, Algeria, Switzerland, Philippines, Poland, Spain, Mexico, Israel, Nepal, Bermuda, UAE, Austria, Sweden, Hong Kong, Finland, Denmark, China, Romania, Brazil, Faroe Islands, Russia, Cyprus, Thailand, Serbia, Greece, Norway, Bahrain, Belgium, Portugal, South Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Latvia, Hungary, St. Kitts & Nevis, Guatemala, Qatar, Colombia, Kenya, Ghana, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Guam, Ecuador, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Tunisia, Jordan, Vietnam, Lebanon, Ukraine, Dominican Republic, Namibia, Argentina, Morocco, Kuwait, Lithuania, Malta, Estonia, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, Luxembourg, Croatia, Macedonia, Czech Republic, and Costa Rica!

Most Viewed Post & Most Pinned Post: 

♥ Another year, another win for Bay Scallop Risotto

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Accomplishments This Year: 

♥ A Brand New Kitchen! (Our second-most viewed post this year)

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♥ Had a baby. She’s the best!

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♥ Joined The Kitchn’s Cookbook Club

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Here’s to 2020! Hopefully it’s another year full of delicious food!

A Brand New Kitchen!

 

One thing is for sure, 2019 has definitely not be the most prolific year of blogging for us! We already explained our absence in the late fall of last year and winter of this year. (For those who missed it, short version is: the first trimester and half of Ally’s pregnancy involved a lot of nausea and not a lot of eating, which translated into very little cooking and recipe experimenting for us.) Good news is that luckily we got past that and started eating again! But then we bought and eventually moved into our new house… where we’ve been renovating the kitchen for the past 4 or 5 months! (By we I mean that Ally’s uncle and cousin, our general contractors, and their sub-contractors have been renovating our kitchen – we have definitely not been doing it ourselves!) Our kitchen renovations have been extensive, involving knocking down a wall, closing off an exterior door, adding a new window, and completely redo-ing the entire interior! And it is finally pretty much done!

We are SO excited about how it’s come together! We’ve still have a few touches here and there to go, and we’re going to update some appliances from functional to a little bit fancier throughout the rest of the summer – so more pictures to follow! But I’m really excited to share what we have! It’s bold and gorgeous (if we do say so ourselves!) and just what we envisioned!

Highlights: 

Our new 6 burner gas range! Selim has been dying to get back to gas cooking for the past few years of apartment living. (He’s almost as excited about the industrial strength vent hood above it…)

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Our big old farmhouse sink – Selim won the battle of textured vs smooth front and it’s been met with rave reviews from our visitors, much to Ally’s chagrin.

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THE TILE. The entire kitchen was designed around this tile! It’s a “Tulip & Reed” Ottoman motif, and the tiles did come all the way from Turkey!

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Windows / natural light and tons of counter-top and cabinet space. We’ve been living in apartments for the past several years, none of which had any windows in or near the kitchen. We just want to see the sunlight!! Similarly, now that we have a real grown-up house, we wanted tons of counter-top and cabinet space. These are custom-made and both the counters and therefore the cabinets are several inches deeper than standard!

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And just for comparison – here’s what the kitchen used to look like:

 

Trip to Austin, TX

 

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This past week, we’ve been eating our way through Austin, Texas. We went on this fun trip with about a dozen other family members, to watch Ally’s cousin Townley swim in his final collegiate meet for the University of Texas. Townley is an amazing swimmer – he swam for Team USA in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and even won a gold medal! (Ally does not share his athletic genes unfortunately…) The NCAA swimming championship was a new, fun experience for us and was a great excuse to check out Austin – neither of us have been there before and Ally hadn’t previously been to the whole state of Texas!

As usual for our blog, we’ll focus on the food! We went fairly traditional/touristy when we were in Austin, but everything was delicious! Of course, we had some breakfast (and dinner) tacos, BBQ, and everything meat!

On our first night, we went alone on a dinner date to Contigo, which was recommended by our favorite Texas natives. We didn’t take any pictures here, but the food was delicious and the portions Texas-sized! The chicken liver mousse from the charcuterie menu was spectacular, topped with smoked maple syrup and chopped pickled green beans. This is a combination I certainly would never have thought of, but it was amazing!

And we did manage to take a few pictures on some of our meals and treats! See below:

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Voodoo donuts! Selim can’t pass up a donut sampling!
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Ridiculous breakfast sandwiches, pastries, and coffee from Sour Duck
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Texas BBQ at Stubb’s BBQ

Recap of 2018

Our yearly recap has become my favorite blog post to write each year! I’m still proud of us for keeping up with our blog for all this time. Now some of you may interject here… ‘What about the fact that this is the first Bon Appetit Baby! post since mid-November? Where have you guys been? We thought this blog was going to fall off the face of the planet, like so many others.’ True, true… but I promise we had a good reason for our absence! We’ll elaborate later. But meanwhile, let’s celebrate 2018 and look forward to 2019!

2018 has been a big year for us! Some of the biggest accomplishments of our lives happened this year. We completed our graduate degrees, graduated from the University of South Carolina, passed our boards, moved from South Carolina to Virginia, started new jobs, and are under contract for our first house! We had so many great times with our friends and family too! So many exciting things happened in 2018… we can only imagine what 2019 has in store for us!

But despite our absence in the past few weeks, we’ve still made a lot of delicious food this past year! Take a look back with us!

Favorite Dishes of the Year:

♥ Ally: Tangy Moroccan Meatballs, French Onion Meatballs, & Southern Pimento Cheese

♥ Selim: Cheese & Herb Monkey Bread, White Wine Poached Shrimp, & Sultan Selim Kofte

Dish I Want to Improve:

♥ Ally: Shrimp Beignets – I think our dough to shrimp ratio isn’t quite perfect

♥ Selim: Southern Fried Chicken – we need to work on maintaining the proper oil temp for each batch

Best Surprise:

♥ Ally: Sabse Borani

♥ Selim: Fig Chutney

If We Had a Restaurant, This Would Be the First Thing on the Menu:

♥ Ally: Prosciutto & Basil Topped Lemon Ricotta Pappardelle or Roasted Patatas Bravas with Super Garlic Aioli

♥ Selim: White Wine Poached Shrimp or Bahraini Chicken Machboos

Most Viewed Post:

Bay Scallop Risotto retains the top spot for another year!

Runner-Up (2nd most viewed post):

Cleveland Polish Boy

Number of Unique Visitors: 3,223

Number of Followers: 51

Number of Bucket List Items Checked Off: only 3 which is disappointing, but we did add to 12 more

Cuisines Sampled: Spanish, Cape Verdean, Cajun, Afghani, Southern, Bahraini, Cuban, Irish

Nationality of Blog Visitors: US, Canada, UK, Australia, Romania, Hong Kong, Germany, Switzerland, China, France, Turkey, Denmark, India, UAE, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden, Barbados, Russia, Ireland, Chile, Philippines, Mexico, South Africa, Italy, Spain, Bangladesh, Japan, Poland, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Malta, Bahrain, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Belgium, Hungary, Antigua & Barbuda, Israel, Laos, Armenia, Tanzania, Kuwait, Qatar, Portugal, Egypt, Macau, Honduras, Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Norway, Algeria, Nepal, Croatia, EU, Trinidad & Tobago, Myanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, & Guam! (This is perennially my favorite statistic! Hi everyone!👋🏼👋🏼)

2019 Goals:

  • Celebrate more food and worldwide holidays
  • Finally share Selim’s perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe 🍪🍪 (we’ve been saying this for 2 years)
  • Have more guest posts from our talented friends and family 👨‍🍳👩‍🍳
  • Keep working on the Culinary Bucket List
  • Explore more new-to-us ingredients and world cuisines 🌍🌎🌏
  • Move into our new house AND remodel the kitchen into our dream kitchen! (We’re finally going to have a gas range and windows!!!!)

Happy New Year and Welcome 2019!!! 🍾

Weekend in Cleveland

October has been kind of a low volume blogging month for us. Honestly, we haven’t made a whole lot worth remembering. This is a little sad because there are so many good food holidays we should have been celebrating in October. (We’ve missed Noodle Day AND Pasta Day – though why those are two separate holidays is beyond me! We also bailed on Dessert Day, Gumbo Day, Pumpkin Pie Day, Taco Day, Red Wine Day, and Chocolate Cupcake Day ☹️ So many missed opportunities! We were also at an event on World Food Day, which I was hoping to make a yearly celebration after discovering what it was all about last year (see: Syrian Mini Meatballs (Dawood Basha)).)

Enough about what we haven’t done this month. One thing we did this month was visit Selim’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. We love our visits to Cleveland for many reasons (family and friends chief among them 🖤), but we also always have excellent food! Cleveland is by far one of the most underrated food cities. Cleveland is definitely a city of immigrants, from the Central & Eastern Europeans of the 1900s to the Hispanic and Middle Eastern newer arrivers. And luckily, that creates a delicious melting pot of foods of all ethnicities.

We tried Brazilian food for the first time outside of those yummy, but kitchsy Brazilian steakhouses. Batuqui was delicious and definitely not kitschy, though Selim did have an amazing garlic-rubbed steak! We also stopped at Selim’s favorite Italian bakery, Presti’s, in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood. And to round out the culinary highlights of the trip, Selim took me on my first milkshake date to Tommy’s. The milkshakes definitely live up to their reputation 😍

So, in conclusion, no recipe today, but some pictures of Selim with his favorite Cleveland treats!

Farewell Columbia

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We’re going to have to update our Meet Us! page here soon. Right now on there, we described ourselves as “newlyweds… currently living in South Carolina.” Well for one, I’m not sure we’re newlyweds anymore. When does that end exactly? And secondly, we’re leaving South Carolina. We moved down here to attend graduate school back at the end 2015. Well, we finally finished our program and graduated from the University of South Carolina! 👩‍🎓👨‍🎓 When we moved down here, I wasn’t all that excited about my new town – I had never lived anywhere except for Virginia and was a little very sad about leaving my home state. Selim was (is!) a little more open to the change – he’s from Cleveland and has lived in Maryland and Virginia as well. Fast forward almost three years and we both love Columbia. To be honest, I’ve already shed a few tears 😢 at the thought of leaving our current home.

The food in Columbia was one of the main reasons, outside of all the wonderful friends we made here (see above ⇑⇑⇑ for wonderful friends), that we grew so attached to this city. Even though our time here has been brief, we’ve already realized that some other South Carolinians or Southerners in nearby states look down their noses at Columbia, thinking this city cannot compare to other nearby destinations. You hear about the Low Country charm of Charleston and Savannah, the hubbub of Charlotte and Atlanta, or how cool and up-and-coming Greenville is… We’re here to tell you not to skip Columbia. It may not have the reputation the other cities have, but your taste buds won’t be disappointed by a stop here. Selim always says he’d put Columbia’s best restaurants up head-to-head with the top spots in Charleston or Greenville. And we’d win!

So we thought for our last hurrah in Columbia we’d give a shout out to our favorite Columbia spots!

Baan Sawan Thai Bistro 2135 Devine Street

  • We’ve probably frequented this family-run upscale Thai restaurant more than any other place in town. This is not your average Thai take-out place, though who doesn’t love that? They offer an amazing combination of a small, intimate restaurant, the best Thai food I’ve ever experienced from the chef brother, and a stellar wine list with thoughtful recommendations from the sommelier brother! One of their soups, the Tom Kha Matz, is a fusion of tom kha & matzo ball soup and is Ally’s favorite dish in the whole city!
  • Ally’s Favorites – Tom Kha Matz, calamari, mussamun curry with sliced duck
  • Selim’s Favorites – three flavored duck, fried bananas, every wine Sam pairs for me, & whatever special protein is available that night (like the 36 hour sous vide pork shoulder)

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Motor Supply Company Bistro – 920 Gervais Street

  • This farm-to-table restaurant, in a gorgeous 1800s era historic brick building, never disappoints. The menu is different every night, but a few items reappear. Local ingredients are used to create Southern classics, as well as dishes with world-wide influence. Their wine list has been carefully curated and has won national awards from some of the top wine magazines in the country.
  • Ally’s Favorites – CAB culotte steak, braised short ribs, shrimp & grits
  • Selim’s Favorites – Duo of duck, the diver scallop appetizer

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The War Mouth – 1209 Franklin Street

  • The War Mouth is helping to pull the Main Street revitalization efforts into the North Main corridor. The food here is heritage Southern and South Carolina fare with a few surprises here and there. The menu does change some – seasonally I think. Of note, there’s a new brewery next door and a great coffee shop around the corner; North Main is definitely up-and-coming.
  • Ally’s Favorites – Chicken bog, the pickle plate, the bread/biscuit basket
  • Selim’s Favorites – “All of the little snacks,” the pickle plate

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Scoopy Doo Gelato Shop – 725 Saluda Avenue

  • The best reason go to Five Points! This gelato shop only offers are few flavors, but what they have is spectacular! The care and love this gelato-maker puts into each and every batch is evident in the deeply rich flavors. There’s always vanilla, chocolate, pistachio; usually two dairy-free sorbettos; and frequently a 21 & older alcoholic concoction. Trust us, you want your scoop in a homemade cone – there’s a surprise in the bottom!
  • Ally’s Favorites – Coca-Cola sorbetto (it’s like they know me…), peanut butter sorbetto
  • Selim’s Favorites – pistachio gelato, Captain Crunch gelato (this one goes quickly)

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Lula Drake Wine Parlour – 1635 Main Street

  • Lula Drake is predominantly a wine bar, as its name suggests, and those wines are unique and carefully curated. It’s a delicious oenologic learning experience every time we go. But the food is sneakily perfect here too, even though it isn’t the focus. If you want fresh handmade pasta, you won’t anything better than what Pierce makes every night. Probably, the most authentic pasta we’ve had outside of Rome, Italy. We love the story behind the name Lula Drake too!
  • Ally’s Favorites – Can Xa sparkling rosé, duck fat hushpuppies, the newest red on the menu, the pasta of the night
  • Selim’s Favorites – The opportunity to taste new and unique wine every time – where else would I try an inky Macedonian varietal?

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Menkoi Ramen House – 1004 Gervais Street

  • This is our favorite stop for quick, cheap, filling, and comforting food. The bowls of ramen are massive, with flavorful broth. Conveniently located in the Vista close to the State House, this is also a favorite among USC students, politicians, and business professionals.
  • Ally’s Favorites – tonkatsu ramen, shoyu ramen, gyoza
  • Selim’s Favorites – tonkatsu ramen, spicy ramen

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Spotted Salamander Cafe – 1531 Richland Street

  • This cafe occupies an old house on a historic street in downtown Columbia. They have the best lunch in town in our opinion. The whole menu is great, but we seem to always gravitate towards the daily specials. Fried chicken sandwich Tuesdays and burger Thursdays are always good. We only wish they were open for dinner instead of just brunch & lunch.
  • Ally’s Favorites – the daily deviled egg, fried chicken sandwich
  • Selim’s Favorites – cronut of the day!

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Sure Fire Tacos & Tortilla Grill – 916 Gervais Street

  • This Tex-Mex taco place has handmade tortillas, some unique tacos, and a salsa bar. It’s a great quick dinner with a group of friends. Plus, who doesn’t love queso? The owners are actually from Houston, TX. They had this restaurant there, but quickly realized that the market there is quite saturated. After a quick market analysis, they settled on Cola and have been making tacos here since 2016. We realize they might not be 100% authentic Tex-Mex tacos, but they make their tortillas in-house and the tacos are unique & made with really fresh ingredients.
  • Ally’s Favorites – Ball Park taco, Mr Piggy taco, The Big Hass taco
  • Selim’s Favorites – I go here for the variety. I like every taco. The three tacos I get each trip are my favorite that night.

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Immaculate Consumption – 933 Main Street

  • We came in here the first time for the coffee, but came back for the sandwiches. This is a lunch spot where you’ll find USC students studying and politicians getting a quick afternoon pick-me-up. They roast their beans in the basement in an really small roaster, and the first time we went here Selim got to help with the process (pulled a lever to spread the toasty beans).
  • Ally’s Favorites – Scott’s Chix Salad, Turkey Green Apple
  • Selim’s Favorites – the coffee!

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Soda City Market – Main Street, between Taylor Street & Lady Street

  • The market is our favorite Saturday morning activity. You can’t quite call it a farmer’s market because the prepared food options outnumber the farm-fresh veggies, though you can get those there too! Ally has to walk the length of market at least twice before making a decision. This market is expanding too; it was only 2 blocks when we first moved here and now it’s 3, with special events frequently taking up a 4th. This place gets packed, and we always run into people we know.
  • Ally’s Favorites – beef empanadas & fried yucca from Los Bellos Portales, bean & cheese papusas from Papusas Salvadoreñas Sandrita, samosas from Indian Palace, dumplings from Fuperman’s Potstickers
  • Selim’s Favorites – BKeD donuts, the fact that there’s food from a variety of ethnicities every week

This, of course, is not the all-encompassing review of the Columbia restaurant scene. These are the places we found ourselves coming back again and again and that contributed to our love of the city. There are SO many other places in the city worth visiting!

Thanks for the food and the memories Columbia. We’ll miss you and your people! ❤ ❤ ❤

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