Forget sweaters and changing leaves. Here are ten telltale signs we know it’s fall in DC. Cupcake Challenge 051

1.       Dinner switches from gazpacho to roasted chicken

2.       Mike gets reacquainted with the Big Green Egg

3.       After a summer of crabs at Quarterdeck and Tangier Island, our go-to seafood is oysters at Johnny’s Half Shell and mussels at Granville Moore’s.

4.       Elizabeth starts baking again

5.       Pumpkin beer!

6.       We’re on the hunt for savory recipes starring leeks and butternut squash

7.       We say good-bye to the basil lemontini and hello to the warm duck Rueben at the Poste bar

8.       Too many local apples, not enough apple recipes

Apple Cake 0349.       Kiss the sunglasses good-bye. We go from al fresco dining to cozy lounges and tea houses.

10.    Fall colors bring road trips and local discoveries like Wasmund’s single malt applewood smoked whiskey.

bread-pudding-afterTwo weeks ago, Melissa McCart of Counter Intelligence launched a new feature called “Favorite Five.”  In it, she asks local chefs about their – you guessed it – five favorite ingredients and then attempts to use them all in a single meal.  She also invites fellow food writers to join her in the challenge; the different takes help to illustrate the versatility of the chef’s favorites.  Last time, Melissa and Missy Frederick of the Washington Business Journal took on Chef Gillian Clark’s favorite five.

This week, Melissa invited us to join her in using five ingredients chosen by Chef/Owner Peter Smith of PS7’s.  Never ones to back down from a challenge, we agreed to work up a menu that included:

1.  Mushrooms (specifically lobster mushrooms and/or morels)
2. Pork (any part of the pig, but Smith particularly likes the versatility of the shoulder)
3. Leeks
4. Yuzu
5. Coriander seed

Care to guess which one gave us a hard time?

You can find Melissa’s menu here.  Our effort – complete with all the fun that went into finding yuzu, never mind using it – after the jump. (more…)

greenbeanWhen we decided to do our Fakesgiving dinner, we spent an afternoon looking through our foodie magazines for side dishes that would go with our smoked turkey.  We wanted variations on traditional dishes – basic mashed potatoes and green bean casseroles just wouldn’t do.  And we definitely wanted foods with big flavors.  Not surprisingly, we found everything we were looking for in the November issue of Food + Wine Magazine.

mac-and-cheese-prepSure, they had a “Thanksgiving Planner” with three complete menus and more than a dozen recipes, but where’s the fun in that?  Instead, we found ourselves drawn to three recipes from other articles in the magazine.  From an article on ‘upcycling’ (a fancy way of saying ‘using scraps instead of throwing them out’).  From a piece on Cook Here and Now in San Francisco.  And from a writeup of a Spanish-influenced Thanksgiving dinner hosted by Philadelphia chef Jose Garces.

The first of the dishes, a macaroni and cheese dish using manchego cheese and the green tops of leeks, immediately caught our eyes (what can I say, I’m a sucker for mac and cheese).  The recipe looked easy enough, if a bit rich, and we knew we would already be using leeks in one of the other dishes we were planning.  I love it when a plan comes together…

Preparations, photos and judges’ reactions after the jump. (more…)