Salted Maple Pie

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So it seems like our cookbook club is the only thing that’s keeping us blogging this fall… I guess that’s a good thing! We’re still really enjoying participating and are loving the variety of cookbooks selected. For November, we’re cooking (or baking as it were!) through Sister Pie, by Lisa Ludwinski. The selection is certainly appropriate, given how pies abound during November and December. Ask Selim about this; he feels VERY strongly about the necessity of pie on your Thanksgiving table! We’re still reluctant bakers over here, so it’s good we had the book selected for us. Maybe one day we’ll finally feel comfortable with baking. But until that day, we’ll keep following baking instructions to the letter! That’s a great thing about this book – there are very detailed instructions about all aspects of creating the pies and especially the dough. Which we definitely appreciated. So there’s very little that we changed about this recipe from the original.

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So our first selection from this cookbook jumped out to both of us. Salted Maple Pie – how could we resist?! Selim loves maple, and I love anything sweet that’s salted. We spent a lovely but chilly weekend with some friends in the mountains and this was a perfect dessert! Decadently sweet, with great maple flavor and perfectly topped with salt! It’s a perfect dessert for these cool, late-fall, almost-the-holidays weekends. And it’d definitely be a welcome addition to your Thanksgiving spread. One big note though: making this pie is time-consuming, with several resting/cooling periods. So I’d advise reading the instructions all the way through before starting!

So after all this work, what’d we think? We all loved the flavor! The crust was nice and flaky – I think we were successful in not overworking it. A tough crust was a common complaint in the Cookbook Club Facebook group, and the consensus is that overworking the dough is the problem. The texture was not quite what we were expecting. We both thought it would be like a pumpkin pie, but it’s more custard-y than that. Selim kept describing it as “eggy,” and I think the texture through him off a little bit. Full confession though. We only let it cool for an hour (instead of the prescribed 4-6 hours) before digging into it. The filling definitely had set a little better by morning when we had some more for breakfast. Sooo… edible and delicious as soon as it’s cool, but better after sitting for awhile!

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Salted Maple Pie

(Minimally adapted from Sister Pie)
Ingredients: 
  • Crust dough:
    • 1 1/4 cup AP flour
    • 1/2 tsp sugar
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup butter, very cold
    • 3 tbsp cold water*
    • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar*
  •  Filling
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted & cooled
    • 1 cup maple syrup
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 3/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature
    • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Etc
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • Flaky salt
Instructions:
  1. Place your stick of butter in the freezer for ~20 minutes prior to getting started.
  2. *Take a 1/4 measuring cup and fill with just an inch or so water and place in the freezer too.
  3. In large bowl, combine dry ingredients – flour, sugar, and salt. Working quickly, use a box grater and grate the butter from the freezer into the bowl. Stop a few times and gently incorporate the butter with the dry ingredients.
  4. *Get that measuring cup with the now-frozen water. Add the apple cider vinegar and then fill up the rest of the way with water. Add this mixture to the bowl.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl, pushing dough from one side of the bowl to another, until there are no longer any pools of liquid. Now switch to your hands -“scoop up as much of the mixture as you can, and use the tips of your fingers… to press it back down onto the rest of the ingredients.” Keep doing this until you have a fairly combined dough ball. Don’t overwork it – stop when the ball is just holding itself together.
  6. Remove from the bowl and pat down into a thick disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  7. Now it’s time to roll out the dough. Lightly flour the counter. Using your rolling pin, “press and roll along the edge of the [dough] round one single time, enlarging the circle. After each press of the edge, rotate the disc 45 degrees.” Now place the rolling pin in the center of the dough and rolling outwards. Keep rotating the dough disc and rolling outwards from the center until the dough reaches a diameter of 12-13 inches.
  8. Invert your pie pan in the center of the dough circle. Cut out a circle of dough with ~3 inches of dough outside of the pie dish. Flip the pie dish back right side up. Gently fold the dough in half, place in into the dish, and unfold.
  9. Next you should crimp the crust. Or don’t. We didn’t quite figure this out. You’re on your own for this step. Good luck!
  10. Place the crust in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.
  11. Ok, now we blind bake the crust. Preheat your oven 450 degrees. Place a large piece of aluminum foil inside the pie dough and fill it up with dry beans. Bake for 25-27 minutes on a cookie sheet. Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing the aluminum foil and beans.
  12. Decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  13. Now we’re moving on to the filling. Whisk together the melted butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, cornmeal, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla. Then slowly pour the egg mixture in the maple mixture, stirring until just combined.
  14. Brush the pie crust with the beaten egg. Then fill it with the maple mixture.
  15. Bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour, until just the center jiggles slightly when the pie pan is shaken. (Ours took the full hour.)
  16. Place the pie on a wire rack to cool for 4-6 hours. Once cool, top with the flaky salt.
Direct quotes come from Sister Pie. I quoted where I thought her explicit directions were important or hard to paraphrase.

Sausages & Roasted Veggies in Agrodolce

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Today’s the last day of September and therefore the last day of our first month of the Kitchn Cookbook Club. We did an even better job than anticipated of cooking through Salt Fat Acid Heat, by Samin Nosrat. We shared our Pasta with Clams & Sausage and Chocolate Cupcakes with Rosewater Cream, but we also made a gorgeous salad from her Avocado Salad Matrix, a nice roast whole chicken, and some green beans that we didn’t love. We still have a few more recipes bookmarked – the Butternut Squash and Brussel Sprouts in Agrodolce, the Autumn Panzanella Salad, and the Vietnamese Cucumber Salad in particular. We clearly won’t get to all of them before the end of the month, given that we only have a few hours of September left, but for dinner tonight we riffed on the squash and sprouts recipe.

The dish as written is vegetarian and would make a beautiful side dish – Samin says she serves it on her Thanksgiving spread! (Selim wants to do the same!) We decided to throw some sausages in the oven with the veggies to make it a full meal with a protein. I was initially attracted to the recipe because of the vinegar. I love vinegar and have learned from this book how the punch of acid improves most dishes by brightening other flavors. And now, I know what agrodolce means! “Agro” + “dolce” = “sour” + “sweet” in Italian. At its most basic, an agrodolce is a sauce of vinegar and sugar. It can be adjusted in many different ways – various vinegars, subbing honey or syrups for the sugar, and adding other ingredients, like herbs, spices, fruits, nuts, olives, and basically anything else!

We both loved this recipe and plan to add it to the regular rotation. The roasting and the vinegar really brought out the inherent sweetness of the vegetables. The sausages were a welcome addition and their fattiness stood up well to the vinegar. The end result is a little messy, but really delicious. We both independently thought that it would have been better if we’d cut the squash into cubes, instead of slicing as the original recommended. I think we’ll try that next time, but left the recipe with the sliced recommendation since that’s how we made it.*

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Sausages & Roasted Veggies in Agrodolce

(Adapted from Salt Fat Acid Heat)
Ingredients:
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 lb brussel sprouts
  • 5 Italian sausages
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/3 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Fresh mint leaves
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Slice the squash in half, scoop out any seeds, and slice into crescents*. Halve these if too large. Place in a large bowl and toss with enough olive oil to coat and ~ 1/4 tsp salt and a few turns of fresh ground black pepper. Spread out in a single layer on a lined cookie sheet.
  3. Halve the brussel sprouts and do the same as above with additional olive oil, a pinch of salt, and pepper. Place them on a second lined cookie sheet.
  4. Place the sausages on another sheet, or on one of the previous ones if there is room without crowding. (Mine fit easily with the brussel sprouts.)
  5. Place the veggies and sausages in the the oven. Roast for 25-30 minutes, turning and adjusting the position of the cookie sheets in the oven about halfway through so everything roasts evenly. [Keep a close eye out towards the end – the brussel sprouts may cook faster than the squash. We like ours on the burnt side of crispy, but you may want to take them out about 5 minutes earlier.]
  6. Meanwhile, submerge the onions in the vinegar to macerate while everything is cooking (at least 20 minutes).
  7. In another small bowl, whisk together 2 tbsp olive oil, sugar, red pepper flakes, and garlic.
  8. Once the veggies are cooked, place them in large bowl. Slice the sausages into bite-sized rounds and place in the bowl as well. Whisk the onions and vinegar into the olive oil mixture and then, once well-combined, pour the mixture into the large bowl. Toss to coat.
  9. Serve on a platter topped with additional salt if needed and a handful of torn mint leaves.
Serves 4

Pasta with Clams & Sausage

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On Instagram a few weeks back, The Kitchn announced that they were creating a virtual cookbook club (ie: a book club, but with cookbooks…). I got really excited! I love cookbooks, trying new recipes, and getting inspired from different sources, but honestly sometimes I’m a little lazy about it. Frankly, a lot of times it’s easier to browse Pinterest or google “what should I make for dinner tonight?” I always am telling myself that I need to use my cookbooks more and trying to reign myself in from buying all the beautiful new ones. So, I joined The Kitchn Cookbook Club and have been eagerly awaiting the announcement of the first selection. And finally it arrived!

The first book selected was Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat. I was excited, like most of the group – Salt Fat Acid Heat has become a little bit of a cultural phenomenon. Ms. Nosrat now has a Netflix show, a column in the NYT magazine, and obviously a very popular book! This cookbook is less of a cookbook than most. It’s mostly an educational manual of food science with recipes and some general guidelines. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book – I learned a lot about some of the science of cooking! Honestly, I need to reread some of it to get these principles ingrained in my head even better. Now for my unpopular opinion – I found it a little disappointing as a cookbook. And really, she’s not going for traditional cookbook here so maybe that’s the point. But I was hoping for a bit more in terms of recipes. None the less, I really enjoyed the recipe I selected and had fun making it!

{Side note: if you’re interested in participating in the cookbook club, you can either request to join the FB group “Kitchn’s Cookbook Club,” or use/follow the hashtag #kitchncookbookclub on Instagram.}

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I love clams and have always loved traditional spaghetti alle vongole! My favorite part of the recipe section of the book is the fact that she shares variations of many of the recipes – the addition of the sausage was a variation that sounded excellent to me! I made a handful of adjustments, based on our tastes and my laziness (only cooking the clams one way instead of two). Most dramatically, I made homemade pasta, which was delicious in this recipe, but definitely makes it more of a two person endeavor and adds to your cooking time. [If you don’t want to make your own pasta with this recipe – skip all of the pasta-making steps, cook it in boiling water until just less than al dente, and then add it to the sauce as below.] I also added the lemon zest and omitted the lemon juice, added a little Aleppo pepper, and cooked the sausage in a separate pan. I was concerned that the sausage would release too much fat if I kept it in the main pot, but it probably would have been fine in retrospect. I really loved this dish! It has a great briny flavor without being too salty! I think I did a good job with all of the elements and can definitely see why she uses this recipe in the book about salt, fat, acid, and heat! They were all in beautiful harmony here!

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Pasta with Clams & Sausage

(Adapted from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat)
Ingredients: 
  • Pasta
    • 2 cups AP flour
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Clams & Sausage
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, diced & reserving the root ends
    • 1 bunch parsley (3 whole sprigs & 1/4 cup finely chopped)
    • 4 lb littleneck clams
    • 1 cup dry white wine
    • 1/2 lb ground spicy Italian sausage
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
    • 1 lemon, zested
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 2oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated
    • Salt & pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Prepare the pasta: on a clean, dry counter-top or in a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt and form it into a volcano (a mound with a crater scooped out in the middle). Crack the eggs into that center well/crater.
  2. Using a fork, slowly mix the egg into the flour. Try to keep the eggs within the crater, pulling in more and more flour. (If you fail, don’t worry, life will go on.) Once the egg is mixed into the flour enough that it’s not trying to run away anymore, switch to use your hands. Fold together until well combined. Now add the olive oil.
  3. Continue kneading the dough, stretching and folding, for at least 5 and up to 10 minutes. By this point, the dough should be smoother and elastic, so that you can form into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes, and up to two hours.
  4. Once the dough has set, roll out and divide into quarters. Using the pasta roller attachment on the stand mixer, flatten out (to #5 if using KitchenAid’s model). Let the flattened dough rest on a floured surface.
  5. Cut into spaghetti (or linguine or whatever pasta shape you desire). [Follow your particular pasta roller/cutter’s instructions for doing these things.] Tip: keep your hands and the surface of the dough lightly floured during this process.
  6. Now get to work on the clams/sausage/sauce. In one pan, cook the sausage until cooked through. Then remove to the side and drain of excess oil.
  7. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat in another large pan. Add the root ends of the onion, 3 sprigs of parsley, and one layer of clams. Pour in the white wine and cover. Steam for 3-4 minutes, until clams open.
  8. Remove the clams to the side with tongs or a slotted spoon and repeat until all of the clams are cooked. Discard any clams that do not open.
  9. Strain cooking liquid and set aside. Once the clams are cool enough to handle, remove from shells and coarsely chop. Place the chopped clams into the cooking liquid.
  10. Now, generously salt and bring another pot of water to a boil.
  11. Rinse the pan, then heat another 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the diced onion, a pinch of salt, and several turns of fresh ground black pepper. Cook for 10 minutes. Follow this with the garlic and pepper flakes. Cook for just another 2 minutes.
  12. Now return the chopped clams and liquid to the pan, along with the lemon zest and sausage. Allow to cook together for 5 minutes over medium heat and then taste.
  13. Once the pot of water is boiling, add the noodles and cook for only 1-2 minutes. After this time, move the noodles into the pan with the clams, sausage, and liquid. (Reserve the pasta water.) Allow the noodles to continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring to coat the noodles with the liquid and spread out the. Add additional pasta water if needed to keep it nice and juicy.
  14. Taste and adjust for salt, acid, and spiciness as desired. Add butter and Parmesan cheese, stir them to melt and coat the pasta.
  15. Serve topped with chopped parsley and more Parmesan if desired.
Serves 4-6

Maple & Mustard Pork with Shallots

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We’re baaaaack! Very sorry for the lack of recipes for the past few months! The dates of our blog absence directly correlate with the first and early second trimester of Ally’s pregnancy with our first child!! While this is spectacular news, our blog did suffer for awhile there. Ally has been fairly sick for the first trimester and generally hated everything about food for a few months there. For awhile, she wouldn’t eat any of the following: meat, seafood, “sweet things,” “heavy things,” or pretty much anything you might think of to make for dinner. So honestly, there wasn’t really a whole lot to blog about for a good length of time! (Unless you’re really interested in meals consisting of Cheez-its and pickles – you just let us know next time! 😉) Thankfully, all of this is starting to improve greatly, though she still randomly will refuse certain foods out of the blue, and we still haven’t made it back to seafood yet!

But don’t you worry – we have an amazing recipe to share today for our welcome back. Last spring we shared Prosciutto & Basil Topped Lemon Ricotta Pappardelle and a rave about the blog where we found the recipe inspiration. Well tonight’s source recipe comes from the same place – truly I think this is my favorite food blog and one I keep returning to again and again. The original recipe is here – our main change was to double the meat and triple the sauce, to make it more appropriate for the five diners we had for this meal. I highly recommend utilizing the sauce to meat ratio we’ve created here, not because I think our idea was superior, but because the sauce is SO DELICIOUS. I was licking the plate. Literally. Not joking. [Pregnant women are allowed to do that. It’s a law.]

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Maple & Mustard Pork with Shallots

(Adapted from the amazing Seasons & Suppers)
Ingredients: 
  • 2 pork tenderloins (~2 lbs)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 6 large shallots, peeled & quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup brown mustard
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Trim any silverskin off the tenderloins (if need be) and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper on all sides.
  3. Heat oil on medium-high in an oven safe dish like a dutch oven. Once the oil is hot, place the tenderloins in the dish and sear on all sides until lightly browned (2 or 3 minutes per side).
  4. Toss the quartered shallots in around the meat.
  5. Whisk together the remaining ingredients for the sauce and pour over top the meat and shallots.
  6. Move the pan to the oven on the medium rack. Cook for 25-30 minutes, until a meat thermometer registers 150 degrees.
  7. At this point, remove the pork from the pan and tent with aluminum foil. Set the shallots aside as well.
  8. Return the pan to the stove top over medium-high heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced and thickened. This may take an additional 15+ minutes.
  9. Season the sauce with additional salt and pepper if desired.
  10. Serve the pork sliced, surrounded by the shallots, and topped with the sauce.
Serves ~6

 

French Onion Meatballs

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Ever eat a delicious bowl of french onion soup and think, ‘wow, this is really good, but I wish I had some meat!’ Yea, me neither, because a bowl of french onion soup is a treasure just how it is. BUT, if you were thinking that, you could turn to this handy recipe for French Onion Meatballs, that combine the flavors of french onion soup with some juicy meatballs. These meatballs are smothered in a savory gravy – the definition of comfort food!

I came across the inspiration for this recipe on Pinterest a few weeks back (see: Cupcakes & Kale Chips) and have been thinking about it ever since! An NFL Sunday afternoon, with weather that finally feels like fall, turned out to be the perfect day to try it. It does take a fair amount of active time to make this, which is why I did it on a weekend afternoon, where I could half watch/listen to the football games (and chat with Selim!) at the same time.

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We ate our meatballs on top of some toasted baguette slices, smothered in the gravy, which I cannot recommend more highly. I also ate some plain in a bowl – that’s excellent too. I’m thinking it would be amazing over top of rice or some egg noodles, OR as a seriously messy appetizer with some toothpicks. The onion flavor is the star here, as in traditional french onion soup. But I think the thyme comes through really nicely, giving it an herbaceous quality as well. Simmering your meatballs in the gravy keeps them nice and juicy. And speaking of the gravy… I was eating it with a spoon. Caramelized onions, beef broth, red wine… if you’re not licking the spoon, then I’m worried about your taste buds.

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French Onion Meatballs

(Adapted from this blog post, via Pinterest)
Ingredients: 
  • 1+ tbsp neutral oil
  • 2 medium onions, halved & sliced
  • 1 lb ground beef (85/15)
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1/8 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 heaping tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp plain bread crumbs
  • ~4 oz Gruyere cheese
    • ~2oz , cut into small bite-sized cubes
    • ~2oz, shredded (or more! 🙂 )
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup unsalted beef broth
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Salt & pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Begin by caramelizing the onions. Heat the oil in a medium pan over just under medium heat. Once the oil is hot, toss in the onions and stir to coat in the oil. Season with 1/2 tsp salt and lots of fresh ground black pepper.
  2. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are caramelized, at least 30-40 minutes, perhaps as long as an hour!
  3. While the onions are cooking, prepare the meatballs. In a large bowl, combine the beef, eggs, fresh herbs, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, bread crumbs, 1/2 tsp salt, and 10 more turns of fresh black pepper.
  4. Form the meatballs by wrapping meat mixture around the small cubes of cheese and forming medium-sized meatballs.
  5. Once the onions are done, deglaze the pan with the red wine, making sure to scrape up all the delicious, browned, stuck-on bits.
  6. Bring the wine to a simmer and add in the meatballs. Continue simmering, with the lid off, for 5-6 minutes, browning the meatballs on both sides.
  7. Now add the beef broth and bay leaf to the pan. Cover and lower heat slightly if needed, so liquid is still simmering. Cook another 15 minutes.
  8. While that is cooking, prepare a beurre manié by kneading together the butter and flour and forming a little ball. (I do this in a ramekin with my fingers.)
  9. Remove the lid from the pan and add the beurre manié. Adjust the heat so the liquid is still simmering (if need be) and stir occasionally until the sauce has thickened. This may take another 10+ more minutes.
  10. Discard the bay leaf and serve topped with the additional shredded cheese. Spoon over a crusty baguette or on top of any type of starch. Garnish with additional parsley if desired.
Serves 4 as an entree; more as an appetizer

Roasted Patatas Bravas

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If you’re anything like me, when eating at a Spanish tapas restaurant you can’t pass up the quintessential tapas dish – patatas bravas. These little potatoes are a little spicy and a little tomato-y and just perfect dipped into a classic garlic aioli! We made a super garlicky aioli to go with ours, and it was delicious! Traditionally, these potatoes are fried and then topped with a spicy tomato sauce. But tonight we roasted our potatoes, after they had been tossed in the tomato sauce. The results were crispy and flavorful, with a soft interior to each bite. This is a great side dish for a group and is a pretty convenient dish to have to make when entertaining guests. So much can be done in advance – the potatoes can be chopped and tossed in the sauce well before cooking, and if you want to make an aioli (hint: you do!) that can also be done in advance.

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We had ours tonight with a less traditional accompaniment – steamed Chesapeake Bay blue crabs! Don’t be skeptical… they worked perfectly together! We ate this delicious summer smorgasbord with Ally’s aunt, uncle, and cousin. Up next we may just share the gorgeous summer salad you see in the corner of the picture below, courtesy of Ally’s cousin Emily!

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Roasted Patatas Bravas 

Ingredients: 
  • 4 Russet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 15 turns fresh ground black pepper
  • 1+ tsp salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Chop potatoes into bite-sized chunks.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together all of the remaining ingredients.
  4. Toss the potatoes in the bowl and coat with the sauce.
  5. Spread the potatoes out on a cookie sheet (or two), avoiding overcrowding. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, flipping them over roughly halfway through.
Serves ~6 as a side

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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