Rebekah Pizana is in her element when baking sweet pastries at home with a glass of Spanish Garnacha an arm's length away. Her food columns have been published in newspapers, magazines, and online for more than six years. She has spent time in New York and D.C. Metro area restaurants building her kitchen knowledge and has had her pastries featured in Condé Nast's BRIDES magazine (Washington, D.C. and Maryland), I Am Modern magazine and online at Style Me Pretty.
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Leesburg Brewing Co.
2-C Loudoun St. SW
Leesburg, VA 20175
Hours: Tue, Wed and Sun:11:00am - 09:00pm; Thur, Fri and Sat:11:00am - 11:00pm
One of the great benefits of running a successful local business is the friendships you build along the way – friendships that enrich not only the local economy, but the community as a whole.
Jim Corcoran, co-owner of Leesburg Brewing Co., explained the idea for the business was borne when friends and partners Mike and JoAnne Carroll had their first date inside the historic downtown restaurant space – formerly the King’s Court Tavern (which recently moved down the street) – 16 years ago. “That’s why we’re here,” Jim said, “because these two had their first date here.” The Carrolls, who own and have operated the Leesburg Vintner for more than 20 years, enjoyed their evening there and continued to frequent the neighborhood bar. Later, they would meet Jim and Lori Corcoran and would eventually house their own brewpub at the same location of their very first date.
That’s just a snapshot of LBC’s beginnings, one of Northern Virginia’s latest brewpubs to open up with a built-in fan base. After a March soft opening, the Mayor of Leesburg finally cut LBC’s ribbon on May 16.
This recipe can be used for the base of a variety of different salads – also delicious as an entrée with grilled steak or chicken.
Q: What exactly is farro, and how do you cook it?
A: Also known as emmer wheat, farro is an ancient strain of hard wheat grown across the Mediterranean. Beloved in Italy, farro has a nutty, chewy texture similar to spelt with an earthy taste. Farro comes pearled (in-perlato) and semi-pearled (semi-perlato). Semi-pearled farro is rich in fiber and nutrients (whole farro has even more) because some of the hull is left (the hull is where the nutrients are!) on the grain. Wholegrain farro keeps the germ and bran intact, but takes longer to cook and requires soaking for up to 16 hours. Individuals with more sensitive digestive systems may want to stick to pearled or semi-pearled. Farro is a wonderful grain substitute for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Both kale and farro are hearty and can last a few days (up to five) in the refrigerator. Toss in your favorite dressing first and allow the salad to sit for a few hours to soak up the flavors. This marinating will slightly soften the kale, making it less sharp and easier to eat.
If you have limited time, try Trader Joe’s 10-minute faro. Each package is approximately 8.8 ounces (a little over 1-¼ cups). Although it is pearled and not as healthy as whole grain farro, this particular farro is still high in fiber, protein, vitamins and magnesium.
Q: I’m looking for an easy banana bread recipe that’s gluten free, but stays moist after baking. What would you recommend?
A: Rice flour is a wonderful flour substitute due to the small granules and natural sweetness and sponge-like qualities of the rice. Rice flour allows just enough moisture from the wet ingredients to produce a perfectly dense baked good. White rice flour is less gritty than brown and a much better replacement in recipes like cookies, breads and cakes. Whenever you substitute rice flour for regular wheat or white flour in a recipe, always add a bit of Xantham gum. It binds all ingredients together during baking and keeps the bread from being too crumbly. Cut the sugar to 3/4 cup if you like your bread less sweet. I’ve also used brown rice syrup as a sweetener, but will cut the measurement in half to use as a sugar substitute.
This banana bread is one of my personal favorites. I don’t even have allergies, and I prefer this over traditional banana bread, especially with the allspice and cinnamon combination. It’s very easy to make, and you can whip it up in less than 15 minutes.
This year’s winning recipes at the Loudoun County YMCA Chocolate Gala included – not surprisingly – a chocolate and bacon pairing.
Chocolate and bacon always seem to be “in vogue.” It’s one food pairing that may never go out of style. Last week, at the YMCA’s 26th Annual Chocolates Galore and More gala, Chef Craig Mason, Executive Chef at the National Conference Center (ironically the host venue), took home two awards: Critic’s Choice “Best Presentation” hors d'oeuvre and the People’s Choice “Best Presentation” hors d’oeuvre.
Chef Mason was kind enough to share his winning recipe with me. I think I may have consumed about two pounds worth of these bacon-chocolate “pops.”
Question: I want to start packing my own lunches during the week to save time and money, but I don't really know where to start. What kind of simple meals can I make that travel easily?
Answer: I've found that owning a good lunch bag, with pockets for ice packs, is a good motivator for me to bring-my-own lunch. My favorite meals to make in large batches are soups and stews. If you don't have a big soup pot, it may be worth picking up during your next shopping trip. Both economical and filling, soups and stews freeze well and the recipe possibilities are endless! If you don't already own some, buy a few lunch-size Tupperware or reusable Ziploc containers. For any meals I want to eat 2-3 days after cooking, I freeze them right away. Soups and stews will last several weeks, even a few months (if packed in a freezer-safe container or Ziploc bag) in the freezer and taste delicious after re-heating.
This zesty chicken soup is one of my favorites and my boyfriend loves it, too, especially with a cheesy panini on the side. Add your egg noodles, beans, or favorite vegetables to make this soup your own.
A: When we think of cooking “healthy,” oftentimes we think of “fat free” and bland tasting foods. This shouldn’t be the case! Instead of replacing regular cooking oils and milk with water and applesauce, consider ingredients like coconut oil and almond milk which add richness and flavor to otherwise “unhealthy” recipes. Almond milk is lower in calories than regular milk and soy milk products. It’s mild in flavor, not too sweet, and certainly does not create a flavorless pancake. Honey, as you may know, has a healthier Glycemic index than table sugar. Coconut oil has been proven as a good saturated fat and can withstand the oxidative damage from high heat, producing a pancake that can contribute that necessary morning boost to your metabolic rate. I’m pretty sure your family will not complain over a stack of these for breakfast.
2 cups whole wheat flour (or your favorite gluten-free flour; be sure to adjust according to substitution directions on the package)
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder (or 1 tsp baking soda if you don’t want “fluffy” pancakes)
1 TB raw honey
1 TB coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (may need more depending on how thick you like your pancakes)
There’s nothing like the caramelized brown sugar and bourbon aroma these blondies give off while baking. Blondies are so versatile, similar to chocolate chip cookies in profile, you can really make them however you want them. For me, bourbon and chocolate are absolutely necessary for perfect blondies. I use Elijah Craig. Economical and with a strong finish, it doesn’t get “drowned out” while baking. Dark brown sugar and maple syrup create a chewy, gooey bar. Take out the leavening (baking soda and baking powder) if you like your blondies extra-dense. Don’t be shocked at the color. These “blondies” turn out looking more like brownies due to the dark
1 (1/2 cup) stick unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup of your favorite bourbon
1 TB maple syrup
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
½ cup milk chocolate chips
These potato pancakes bring the applesauce inside, using a grated Granny Smith apple to add some natural sweetness and tartness. I do like my latkes packed with golden onions and green scallions, but after a nice stack of savory potato cakes, I start to wonder if I can also eat them for dessert. While this recipe is not necessarily a dessert, it does put a sweet spin on the classic Hanukkah latke. A little ginger and cardamom (add cinnamon if you feel like being a little more adventurous) give the sweet potatoes the kick they need and sea salt balances it all out. Finish with a zesty lemon crema if you want a topping, but cardamom tends to be expensive ($14 for 2 oz.) so I do like to eat mine without cream. Slightly cooking your potatoes prior to mixing not only allows them to absorb the seasonings better, but keeps you from having to bake the latkes to “finish” them.
3 large sweet potatoes
1 Granny Smith apple
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
Pinch of ground cardamom (to taste)
Sea salt (to taste)
Butter or extra virgin olive oil, for frying