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    Local Gourmet
    See the world through the eyes (and stomach) of a pastry chef ...
    I’m dreaming of a spiked eggnog Christmas…
    photoPhoto courtesy/ Rebekah Pizana   Lage’s spiked eggnog
    Most of us serve eggnog at Christmas because it’s part of the traditional meal we are used to every year. And for some reason, there always seems to be this love-hate relationship with the nutmeg-spiced cream. It tends to have a strong flavor, mostly of eggs and less of spicy goodness. Half of dinner guests love it and the other half hate it.

    Chef Jason Lage of Lovettsville’s widely-recognized destination restaurant, Market Table Bistro, could change any eggnog disbeliever’s mind about the comforting drink, and make any eggnog lover more addicted than ever.

    “One of the really cool things about eggnog is that you can take it in any direction you want to,” Lage says. “I add fresh ginger and serve it chilled.”

    His house-made eggnog is nothing but creamy goodness, almost like drinking an ice cream that hasn’t yet been churned. And at the farm-totable bistro – housed in a large, restored country home on Lovettsville’s East Broad Way – Lage prepares the fresh ginger and nutmeg milk spiked with Southern Comfort. Last Friday, it was the drink of the night with diners at Market Table.

    “Often, eggnog you find at the store is not thickened with real eggs like it’s supposed to be,” Lage says. “We cook ours like a creme anglaise, unlike eggnog thickened with xantham gum.”

    Lage was kind enough to share the recipe with me. If you need to be convinced to mix up a batch, I would urge you to try Lage’s at Market Table. If eggnog isn’t part of your Christmas dinner tradition, it will be after your first sip.
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    Panettone – From Costabissara, Italy to Loudoun
    When you think of Italian panettone, what do you think of? Just a few weeks ago, when someone said “panettone,” the first thought that came to my head was a large chain store decked out in Christmas decorations and a high stack of big red boxes featuring tall, fruit-looking bread. I’d tasted panettone at Christmas parties, straight from one of those red boxes. It seemed like a quick and fast party contribution which always left me disappointed. I had heard homemade was delicious but never had the chance to try it. The big red box kind did make amazing bread pudding because of the dryness. But believe me, that is not what people should think of when they hear “panettone.”

    Il Pioppo, a Dulles-based artisan wine distributor just started selling made-in-Italy panettone. I had a couple of slices of the award-winning Loison pasticerri sweet bread, and it changed my entire American panettone-first-thoughts. Airy, moist, with plump dark red cherries, I couldn’t stop eating it. My 10 sweet loaves arrive this week. No need to turn it into bread pudding, although if I did, it would be dangerous … and then I started thinking, what if I made a panettone frittata? Oh my goodness.

    If you go overboard on your panettone ordering this Christmas (especially after you try Loison, like I did) here is an easy recipe for your leftovers from the bakers at Loison:

    Panettone

    frittata with

    vanilla ice cream

    (If you don’t have a scale, use the metric conversion chart here.) Ingredients: 175 g milk 80 g sugar 2 eggs 225 g panettone 90 g egg white 50 g sugar

    Caramelise 80 g of sugar, pour on the milk and leave to cook until the sugar has melted. Add the panettone cut into cubes and the eggs and stir well.

    Beat the egg white with 50 g of sugar and fold into the mixture, stirring slowly from the top down. Pour into a greased tin and bake for about 9 minutes at 160 degrees. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

    To order Loison from Il Pioppo, visit http://www.ilpioppo.com
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    Q&A: Jason Reaves, winner of ‘LEGO Cakes Challenge’ show
    photoTerry Tuttle (left) and Food Network Challenge partner Jason Kristofor Reaves stand with their prize-winning LEGO Cake. Photo Courtesy/Food Network
    Jason Reaves, pastry chef at Market Salamander in Middleburg, recently competed in Food Network’s “LEGO Cakes Challenge.” The episode featuring him and three other pastry chefs aired Nov. 6, and Reaves won the challenge. Below is a Q&A with Reaves about the competition and his big win.

    Q: So how did you audition for the Food Network Challenge?

    A: I submitted an audition video that told all about myself, why I wanted to be on the show, a cake demo, photos of cakes I’ve made in the past, and as a bonus I showed off some of my kitchen dance moves.

    Q: When and where was the show filmed?

    A: The show was filmed months in advance at a top secret location.

    Q: How long did you guys have?

    A: The main competition was eight hours, however they did throw a twist at us by adding another two-hour competition at the beginning for a total of 10 hours.

    Q: What was your biggest challenge making a LEGO cake?

    A: Keeping the secret of the outcome of the show for months and months.

    Q: Why did you choose the one you made?

    A: Food Network gave all the teams a choice of which LEGO World we would like to have, then it was first come first serve for which one you actually got. My world was LEGO City/Town which I was very happy with.

    Q: Tell me about the announcement of your engagement to Nicole on the show...

    A: What better way to show someone that you care about them then by showing hundreds of thousands of people on national TV? It was also a great way for all my family to be a part of it.

    Q: What was the prize, and how do you feel about winning?

    A: The prize was $10,000. It was amazing to win; by the time we got to the end I was so tired it was hard to keep standing. I feel like I won two prizes that night; I am more excited about the engagement then the money.

    Q: Any plans in the near future for another show or challenge?

    A: I would love to do another show; time will only tell.

    Q: Anything else you would like to add?

    A: It was the hardest day of my life, and I would not change it for the world.
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    Pinkberry opens to enthusiastic fans in Loudoun