picky palate... finally!

Chicken 3-bean chili from Picky Palate CookbookI'd complain about not being able to attend the photoshoot for The Picky Palate Cookbook by Jenny Flake, which means I can't write a behind-the-scenes blog post, but I'm just so happy how the book turned out. These are some of my snapshots from making the recipes at home, but the amazing Matt Armendariz took the real photos for the book. You can read more about it on Picky Palate, and you can enter some giveaways Jenny is doing for the book right now! As for me, I'll just be minding myself and cooking my way through this book. The chapter I like best is called Slow and Low Recipes. There are a few recipes just for slow cookers, but not this one (phew, because I don't own a crockpot). Now that it's turning a little chilly where I live, food like this is just about perfect. But just because Jenny put this in the "Slow" chapter, don't think you're going to be slaving over the stove all day long. The actual cooking time for this Southwest Shredded Chicken 3-Bean Chili is about 11 minutes. No really, 11 MINUTES! The trick is that you start with shredded meat which is easiest to get if you buy one of those rotisserie chickens at the supermarket. (Hey, it's practical!) Technically I roasted my own chicken, and that's totally fine too.Chicken 3-bean chili from Picky Palate CookbookSo what makes this recipe so great besides how easy it is? There are black beans, kidney beans and cannellini beans, and Jenny strikes just the right balance of flavors with fire-roasted diced tomatoes, hot sauce, chili powder, and lime juice. In fact, you might alter the lime juice and hot sauce measures to taste. If you've got kids in the house, then maybe a bit less spice. I went for extra lime juice. Topping it with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and some scallions adds a nice touch too. And though it's not likely you'll have any leftovers, this tastes even better the next day! I'll let you check out the actual book for the full recipe. And don't forget to visit Picky Palate for some fun giveaways.

Texas by way of James Villas

Texas Three-Alarm ChiliIf you know me, then you know I'm not a sports guy. The big game? Eh, I don't have a clue. Chili is simply heart-warming food, and with the weather today well below freezing in the Northeast, this dish came to the rescue. It's from the latest book by James Villas, From the Ground Up -- the recipe is Texas Three-Alarm Chili. There are 8 tablespoons of chili powder, 2 jalapenos, Tabasco, garlic, 2 onions, cumin and coriander to spice things up, and while this dish may not be for the faint of heart, I'd say it had the perfect amount of heat. My mom wouldn't like it very much, but for me it was just right.Texas Three-Alarm ChiliDon't involve me in any debates about "real" chili. This one obviously has ground beef (logical since the book is called From the Ground Up) and kidney beans. I figured there was already so much onion cooked into the chili, I'd skip them for the topping and stick with just some grated cheddar. Authentic? Well, I don't know. All I care about is that it made a huge pot, and we're sure to have leftovers for tomorrow.

my D.C. recap

CapitolThis foodie recap of my trip to D.C. is so totally subjective, uncomprehensive, and unauthoritative, you almost have to stop reading it right now. But please don't!We, The PizzaThe whole trip was planned around going to the pre-opening party for Spike Mendelsohn's brand-new We, The Pizza. It's located next door to his wildly popular Good Stuff Eatery on Pennsylvania Avenue, and if you're lucky enough to live in the D.C. area, be sure to stop by for the official opening next week on July 19 (update -- July 26)! At the party we got to sample some of the pizzas, sodas, ice cream, and more, and I think this place is gonna be a huge hit.Justin SchwartzGood Stuff EateryGood Stuff EateryOf course I also had to visit Good Stuff Eatery while I was in town. It starts getting busy even before noon, so consider yourself warned about the crowds. Let me highly recommend the Obama Burger. As I was saying the other day, Spike's burgers rule. I'm no burger aficionado, but I have tried a lot of burgers that people rave about, and I can't think of anything that even comes close to how good this is. (Don't let the smooshed look deceive you -- it's part of the charm of Good Stuff that they wrap the burgers in wax paper.) The fried onion petals are a treat, and that dulce de leche shake is pure creamy heaven.CapitolHere's a photo of the inside of the Capitol. It's so close by Good Stuff, we had to take a tour.Hello CupcakeI have to give a shout-out to Hello Cupcake over by Dupont Circle. This lemon cupcake is just so perfect!Ben's Chili BowlBen's Chili BowlBen's Chili BowlBen's Chili BowlBen's Chili BowlBen's Chili BowlNo trip to D.C. would be complete without visiting the legendary Ben's Chili Bowl. I stopped by twice. Yes it gets crowded, but I love this place, I love the people, I love the way it seems to never change, and I love the chili.Bar PilarUnfortunately not all of my fancy dining choices in D.C. were good ones, but Bar Pilar on NW 14th Street is definitely on my short list of favorites now. Great cocktails, even better atmosphere, and a really interesting menu of small plates. It's packed during the earlier hours of the evening, but I was able to sneak in just before the kitchen closed one night. In fact, it was so good I came back the next night to try the desserts, and you'd be wise to do the same. Pilar can get a little pricey compared to most places I'm talking about, but it's totally worth it for food this good. One downside, if you can call it that -- some of the dishes are so yummy, they might be sold out if you come too late. Sorry I didn't get any photos of the food, but this place has a great moody vibe to it, and flash photography would have not been cool.Super Tacos & BakerySuper Tacos & BakerySuper Tacos & BakeryMy bakery searches turned up Super Tacos & Bakery. It's a bit out of the way if you're a tourist, but absolutely worth a trip. You can't get Mexican pastries this good anywhere in San Francisco -- absolutely perfect texture. Honestly, that second treat literally brought a tear to my eye, it was that good. If you're haven't tried these kinds of pastries before, they're impossibly light and flakey, making them fun (but messy) to eat, and the sweetness is subtle.Super Tacos & BakeryOf course I had to try their tacos first... chorizo, carnitas, and, ummm, something else porky. All winners. They make a great mango drink too. I would never have expected to find an amazing Mexican spot like this in D.C., but I'm sure glad I did. And the prices are insanely low.Sticky Fingers Bakery storefrontSticky Fingers Bakery cupcakesSticky Fingers Bakery cupcakesJustin SchwartzI guess it's kind of odd, but I went straight from Super Tacos (aka, meat heaven) to Sticky Fingers to try their vegan cupcakes. Besides being so great-looking, these taste pretty awesome too. I'm not complaining or anything, but I know when I'm eating a vegan cupcake. There is something about the texture and aroma that gives it away. But you're not going to mind much whether your a veggie or not -- these are a total delight. You can see a bit of the retro-style decor in the background, which I liked too. So there it is, my totally random recap of foods I tried in D.C. If you're a local, then you probably think this is a weird round-up, but if you're visiting D.C. soon, you might want to give some of these places a try.