Sunday, January 30, 2011

2 Foodbuzz 24x24: Brinner and a Book

Flashback to a year ago, when the greater Washington D.C. area saw the worst snowstorm its had in years; people dubbed it the only thing logical. The snowpocalypse. D.C. and its surrounding cities experienced upwards of 2 feet of snow that shut the metro area down. It was such a big deal that whenever I enter the word "snow" into my phone it now decides to auto-fill with snowpocalypse.

Why is something a year ago relevant today you may ask? Aside from the fact that D.C. experienced another snow storm this past week that turned rush hour commutes into 8 to 10 hour events rather than the normal .5 to 1 hour routines, the weekend of last year's snowpocalypse was supposed to be my roommate Zak's birthday party. Sadly, due to people's inability to travel he had to cancel his birthday party. A year later, I came across the opportunity to participate in the January Foodbuzz 24x24, a 24 hour dinner party hosted by 24 different individuals across the world. Needless to say I was ecstatic when I learned that I could participate in this event, and celebrate my roommates birthday with our closest friends. So welcome to my first Foodbuzz 24x24 post!

When Breakfast meets Dinner...

That's where we come to Brinner and a Book. A few months ago, while out in D.C. with friends, one of my friends vocalized the idea of spending the day relaxing with friends while wearing pajamas, drinking wine, and reading books under the warmth of blankets. I then mentioned the idea of adding brinner to the event, which  is having a breakfast meal for dinner. Needless to say, we decided right then and there to have a relaxing, book reading, food eating birthday for Zak on the last weekend of January.
We all gathered together on Saturday afternoon in our PJs at my home in Northern Virginia. Zak loves exploring different types of cheeses, so we started the afternoon catching up on events post New Years with mimosas and assorted cheeses.
After a few mimosas and learning that, even in teams, Trivial Pursuit was none of our strong points (however, I did gain the quite valuable knowledge that Orville Redenbacher died in the bathroom) I decided to go off and start dinner while the others read books and explored their knowledge of Scrabble.

The Food

Breakfast for dinner gave me the opportunity to flex my creativity and turn some classic American breakfast platters into fun dinner items. The other fun twist on this meal was the dietary restriction. I found out last year that I needed to be on a gluten-free diet (which makes the consumption of many traditional breakfast dishes impossible) so I had to come up with gluten-free alternatives for some dishes. Also, I found out that some of our guests were vegetarians, so I made some tweaks to parts of the menu that I will share with you all. So, onto the first dish...

Steak and Eggs: NY Strip Steak and Bacon-Tomato Frittata

The main course of the dinner was a spin on the tradition steak and eggs dish, which became NY Strip Steaks with a side of Bacon-Tomato Frittatas.

How to Cook the Steak
Cooked the steaks using a grill pan over medium heat. Once the pan comes up to heat, spread some olive oil over the pan, and salt and pepper both sides of the steak. Cook the steaks on each side for about 5-6 minutes per side, and cover them with either a lid or a sheet of aluminum foil to capture the heat. Apply pressure with the back of a fork on the tops of the steaks to tell if they are done rather than cutting it open. If you feel quite a bit of resistance when you try to push down the steak, it should be close to done. Remove the steaks from the pan, and cover for about 5 minutes. This lets the juices of the steaks to rest inside the steaks, while cutting a steak open to test for done-ness leaks juices and dries out the steak.

The Frittata
I wanted to make a frittata instead of typical eggs or omelets to have a fun, cultural twist on traditional eggs. A frittata is similar to omelets, but has a few differences. Frittatas normally have the eggs poured into a pan, and then the fillings are added on top. Also, the eggs are not stirred when poured into the pan, allowing a crisp outer layer to the frittata. The link to the detailed recipe is located here. I've included a video below detailing how to make it, including important cooking and safety tips.

Fruit Salad with Balsamic Almonds

I wanted to make a light side dish to counter-balance some of the heavier dishes, so a light fruit salad was the logical choice to me.

-Red seedless grapes
-2 oranges
-1 crisp ted apple
-Juice of half a lemon
-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
-1 tsp white wine
-1/4 lb sliced almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spread a layer of almonds on a cookie sheet, and lightly salt. Toast the nuts for about 3 minutes. When out of the oven, toss in a tablespoon of the vinegar.

1. Slice the greens off the strawberries, and slice in half. Add to a medium bowl.
2. Peel the orange, and slice into half-pinwheels. Add to the bowl.
3. Core the apple, and slice into pieces the same size as the oranges. Add to the bowl.
4. Add all the other fruits to the bowl.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the wine, juice, and remaining vinegar. Add the nuts and juice to the bowl, and lightly toss.

Sweet Potato Hash

Another iconic dish to breakfast is hash browns. For dinner, I wanted to use fresh, local sweet potatoes and flavors such as cinnamon and maple to tie in some other breakfast flavors.

-2 to 3 sweet potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
-1 medium onion, diced
-2 tbsp ginger
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 tbsp cinnamon
-1/4 cup maple syrup
-dash salt and pepper

1. Preheat a deep pan over medium heat. To this add the potatoes, ginger, cinnamon, S&P, and maple syrup. Cover with a lid, and stir occasionally.

2. While the potatoes cook, sautee the garlic and onions in a tbsp of olive oil until the onions are translucent.
3. Add the onions and garlic to the potatoes, and cook for about 20-30 minutes, stirring constantly, or until a fork inserted to the potatoes goes through.

All together on one plate...

When cooking all of the above, I found out that some of our guests were vegetarian, so I made one or two alterations, such as cooking an additional frittata without the bacon. The entire meal was a huge success, and everyone loved the main course and sides, especially the frittata and hash.

However, there was one more surprise for everyone. I mean, you can't have a dinner party, nor could you have a breakfast party, without some...

Needless to say that this was the star of the show. For this I used a gluten free flour blend of 1 cup white rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch, 1/3 tapoica flour, and 1/2 tsp xantham gum. I like this blend because of the flavor and texture. Also, with this I've realized that homemade coffee ice cream is completely and utterly (ha, cow joke. get it?) amazing...

Thank you to everyone for reading, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed preparing it. Also, thank you again to Foodbuzz for this wonderful opportunity. The recipes for the Steaks, Fruit Salad with Balsamic Almonds, and Sweet Potato Hash are included in this post, while the recipes for the Frittata and Waffle can be found here:

Happy Sunday Everyone! And...

Happy Birthday Zak!


  1. Thanks! It was tons of fun preparing the menu and writing the post for it.