Open Monday through Saturday 7:00 am to 9:00 pm • Sunday 8:00 am to 9:00 pm

Friday, February 27, 2009

End of the week!

Happy Friday! I'm making French Green Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk (vegan) and we have Broccoli Cheddar Soup (vegetarian) as well.

The truth is, I'm not sure about the sandwich specials today. We will have The Virginian (ham, turkey, havarti and whole seed dijon) at least for a while. The Apple Alexander (Granny Smith apple, brie and honey) as well.

I'll stop back here and update you on menu changes.

Don't forget to stop by for Saturday specials! I think there might be something new this week......

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lots of yummy soup at the Cafe

Aaron is in the kitchen this morning making Broccoli Cheddar Soup (vegetarian) and we also have Hearty Beef Stew with Red Wine and Harvest Split Pea Soup (vegan).

We also have The Virginian, ham, turkey, havarti and whole seed dijon grilled on a ciabatta sub roll.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A bit about Beanstrings

On this very nippy Wednesday we have a Hearty Beef Stew with Red Wine and Harvest Split Pea Soup (vegan).

We also have The Virginian, ham, turkey, havarti and whole seed dijon grilled on a ciabatta sub roll.

Just a couple of months after we opened, I asked my friend Anne if she would teach a beginner's knitting class at the Cafe. At the time the cafe closed at 4:00 p.m. and this group would meet from 6-8p.m. once a week for eight weeks. That has been more than four years ago now and with a handfull of exceptions, Anne has been at every one. It's very casual. We just hang out and knit. If someone needs help there are plenty of people to offer advice or experience, but it isn't a formal class. Anyone is welcome. Lately, we've been meeting up the street at the Barnes and Noble because the Cafe is now open in the evening and getting busier.



I also dye yarn with coffee and acid-based dyes. For the past two years we have participated in the Charm City Craft Mafia's Holiday Heap, selling food, coffee, and hand dyed yarn. My yarn brand is Beanstrings.



One of the really interesting things I've started doing is painting on a "canvas" of machine knitted fabric (which I call Twin Toes), with the intent of un-knitting/re-knitting it into something else. Below is a picture of two Twin Toes yarns and the Dog Walker's Mitten they were re-knitted into.





If you are interested, drop a note in the comment section of this post or catch me at the Cafe. By the way, you can also catch me on Ravelry as CarmaFrancie.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fat Tuesday


Happy Mardi Gras all. Today we have Tortilla Soup (vegetarian) and a hearty Beef Stew with Red Wine.

The TCB and Apple Alexander are also on the menu.

Our first Mardi Gras at the Cafe was in 2005. We decided to celebrate the occasion with some decorations (beads and masks naturally, and this horrible blow-up jester that refused to stay inflated) as well as some traditional New Orleans fare.

A regular customer offered to loan me her copy of Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen, the cookbook that is largely responsible for spreading the word about Cajun and Creole cooking. So I set out to make Gumbo.

As I read through the recipe it occurred to me that Gumbo was essentially fried chicken and a bunch of other stuff floating in gravy. Hey, I'm a southern girl. I know fried chicken. I know gravy. How hard could this be? Ha.

The Monday before Mardi Gras I lugged all of my cast iron to the cafe (no small feat) and prepared for an evening of cooking. I started by multiplying Chef Paul's recipe times ten. That's about 25 pounds of chicken and 5 pounds of andouille sausage, not to mention mountains of chopped onions, green peppers and celery (known in Louisiana as the Holy Trinity).

Sometime after frying the chicken and facing down the illusive black roux, I called Michael for some reassurance.

"So I just wanted to talk this through with somebody. You ever made a recipe that called for a cup and a half of cayenne pepper?"

I don't remember his exact response, but it was something along the lines of ARE YOU SEROUS?!

The Chicken and Andouille Smoked Sausage Gumbo was sublime. And yes, I used every bit of the cayenne. I'm still asked occasionally if I'll ever make it again. It would be de-vine with the Orgeat Punch (I saw a copy of In the Land of Cocktails on his coffee table) Nick served at his Mardi Gras party last Saturday.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Let the good times roll!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Good Monday!

The soup today is Tortilla Soup and we have just a bit of Curried Cauliflower Pistachio left.

The TCB, turkey, cranberry & brie and the Apple Alexander, Granny Smith apple, honey & brie are both panino specials grilled on a ciabatta sub roll.

Have a great week!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Through the cloud of confectioners sugar...



Don't you wish you were here?! Why aren't you?

Today's specials:

Hot Beignets & Cafe au Lait
Spicy Bean Strata

Curried Cauliflower Pistachio Soup
Ginger Carrot Soup
(both vegetarian)

The TCB - turkey, cranberry & brie
The Apple Alexander - Granny Smith apple, honey & brie
both grilled on ciabatta sub rolls

Now back to the donuts......

Friday, February 20, 2009

Tomorrow preempts today

Today's Soups are the Baked Potato Soup and a Ginger Carrot Soup (vegetarian).

Today's panini specials are Mediterranean Tuna Salad, a cold tuna salad featuring our olive tapenade, celery, scallions and very lightly dressed and the Apple Alexander, Granny Smith apple, honey and brie grilled on a ciabatta sub roll.

So about tomorrow.....

This coming Tuesday is Mardi Gras. And tomorrow being the last Saturday before Fat Tuesday, I thought it would be a nice treat to offer Beignets and Cafe au Lait to get everyone in the mood.

Beignet is simply the French word for deep fried pastry - a doughnut to you and me. In New Orleans the Cafe du Monde is open 24/7 cranking out gallons of chicory-infused cafe au lait and beignets - served in orders of three. Who wouldn't love a mouthful of this sweet, flaky confection? The jury is still out on whether I can taint our Barista's Blend with chicory.....

The reason I'm letting you know this a day early is not only to give you advanced notice, but I may be too busy tomorrow to blog anything but the specials.


Long before I met my friend Nick I heard about Nick's Mardi Gras parties. In the true spirit of Mardi Gras, the stories of great cocktails, outrageous food and general merriment are the stuff of local legend. This year I got one of the coveted invitations and, being a bit of a show-off, offered to make the King Cake.

So until next time, laissez les bons temps rouler!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Let's try that again

Yesterday was so dismal, we decided on a "do-over". At least it is drier out....

Soups are Baked Potato (all the goodness of a twice baked potato - sour cream, cheese, bacon.... yum! and Pumpkin Black Bean (vegan).

Panini specials are The Hot Turkey with Gravy and Savory Vegetables, as well the The TCB, turkey, cranberry and brie and the Apple Alexander, Granny Smith apples, honey & brie.

Make sure to check in tomorrow. I think we're going to have some great specials for Saturday morning.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

There are snow flakes in the air!

Woo-hoo! The weather outside maybe frightful, but the soups you'll find delightful.

Today we have a Baked Potato Soup and Pumpkin Black Bean (vegan). The Baked Potato soup is just that - all the fixings of a stuffed baked potato - bacon, cheese, sour cream and a few other tasty treats. It's a real "stick to your ribs" comfort food.

The Panino Special is a Hot Turkey with Gravy and Savory Vegetables, it tastes just like Thanksgiving.

Busy day ahead, will chat at you soon.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday Specials

Soup's are Mulligatawny, a curried chicken soup and the Spicy Latin Bean soup. I am also making Pumpkin Black Bean.

The Panini specials are The TCB, turkey, cranberry & brie and the Apple Alexander, Granny Smith apples, honey & brie. Both are grilled on a ciabatta sub roll.

Hope you have a great Tuesday.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Things need spicing up!

Soups in the pot are Mulligatawny Soup, a curried chicken soup and Spicy Latin Bean Soup (vegan). Michael has quite the reputation with chicken soups and the mulligatawny is no exception. It is always a big hit. The Spicy Latin Bean soup "just kinda happened" at the pot. First one thing, then another which led to a twist. It's delicious, a bit spicy and not what you'd expect. Is that enough of a tease to get you to try it?

The Panino Specials are The TCB, turkey, cranberry & brie and The Apple Alexander, grilled Granny Smith apple, brie and honey.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Greatest Lovestory......

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today's Soups are Spicy Latin Bean Soup (vegan) and a Hearty Vegetable Soup. Our panino special is The Virginian.

Please enjoy one of my favorite animations and a great love story.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The best of days, the worst of days.

It's Friday! the 13th. Let's focus on the Friday part, shall we?

Today's soup is a very hearty Vegetable Soup (vegan).

Panini specials are The Virginian, turkey, ham, havarti & whole seed dijon, the Apple Alexander, Granny Smith apple, brie and honey grilled on ciabatta and The TCB - turkey, cranberry & brie.

Carmen Duff was my maternal grandmother and namesake. To her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren (and friends thereof) she was Granny Duff. She had a quiet voice, dislike conflict and was most comfortable chatting as she bustled around the kitchen. There was always a basket of biscuits sitting on the table, a couple left over from the previous meal, ready to accept a dollop of jam, a slice of ham or, in the summer, a slathering of butter and a slice of tomato fresh from the garden.

Today is Granny Duff's birthday and I miss her. It was Granny that I called to find out how to fry chicken (on the stove then finish in the oven) or to ask why my pinto beans never tasted as good as hers (not enough salt). There were so many things she just threw together without a second thought. A cucumber onion salad made with some magical combination of vinegar, water and sugar was served at every meal and I have yet to be able to reproduce it. Maybe it wasn't just the recipe, but the ingredients as well. Paw-Paw's garden was a sight to behold. Those cukes were grown and served with love.

Granny said these were called angel biscuits because they were so light and fluffy and everyone said they tasted heavenly. Make biscuits for someone you love and remember my cooking angel - Granny Duff.

Granny's Angel Biscuits
5 cups flour, unsifted
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup lard (yes, lard. Can be found in the meat case in large supermarkets. You can also use Crisco® or Butter Flavored Crisco®)
2 packages yeast
1/2 cup warm water (about 100°)
2 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups "sweet" milk with a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice added to it)

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Set aside to proof. In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients. Cut lard or shortening into dry ingredients (same technique as used to make pie crust. See video below.) Add proofed yeast and buttermilk. Stir together briefly without over working dough. It's going to be sticky! Pat to 1/2 inch thickness and cut into biscuits (Granny Duff used a recycled sweetened condensed milk can).* Bake in 425° oven for about 10-12 minutes. Turn oven up to broil if needed to brown the tops.

* Raw cut biscuits can be frozen on a cookie sheet then stored in a zip-lock bag in the freezer. To bake, place in a cold oven.

How to "cut-in"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mayhap the Winds of Change?

Hold onto your toque - there are some serious winds whipping through Baltimore today.

We have Broccoli Cheddar Chowder (vegetarian) and Classic Mushroom Soup (vegetarian).

From the panini grill we have The Virginian, ham, turkey, havarti and whole seed dijon and the Apple Alexander, Granny Smith apple, honey and brie grilled on a ciabatta sub roll.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

We have a mystery.....

We have Classic Mushroom Soup (vegan) and Harvest Split Pea Soup (vegan), both of which are gluten-free.

From the panini grill we have The Virginian, ham, turkey, havarti and whole seed dijon and the Apple Alexander, Granny Smith apple, honey and brie grilled on a ciabatta sub roll.

So on to the mystery! This postcard arrived in yesterday's post at the cafe.















Now while I'm sure you will agree this is a fine image of President William Taft the real mystery is the message.



For those of you who may not remember presidential trivia, William Taft was a large man - over six feet tall and in excess of 300 pounds. And after an unfortunate incident in the bath (where he required the assistance of six men to help him get out) he had a 7 foot long, 41 inches wide tub installed at the White House. I'm thinking if that tub is still around it will make a fabulous winter pool for a certain two little girls.

Clearly the sender has discriminating taste in coffee. And who doesn't thrill at the idea of a secret admirer - albeit a pushy one.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Today's Soups are Classic Creamy Mushroom (vegetarian) and Creamy Tomato Basil.

The Panino Special is The Virginian - ham, turkey, havarti and whole seed dijon.

Come out and enjoy the weather! Bundle up a bit, bring a friend (or your dog) and have a nippy mid-winter picnic on the terrace.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Crazy Weather and other oddities

For any of the JHU grad students who may be reading, today's GRO Coffee Hour has been moved to 12:00 noon in the Great Hall In Levering.

PSA, out of the way.....

Today at the Cafe

Soups
Creamy Tomato Basil (vegetarian)
Homemade Chicken Noodle
Minestrone (vegan)


Panino
The TCB - Grilled turkey, cranberry & brie

And a Soup/Sandwich Combo
Bowl of Creamy Tomato Basil Soup and a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Happy Weekend!

The Saturday specials include Apple Cinnamon Raisin Steel Cut Oats with Cream, French Toast lightly flavored with orange liquor and fresh oranges and of course, Blueberry Muffins just out of the oven.

We also have The TCB, turkey, cranberry & brie panino.

Soups today include Homemade Chicken Noodle, Minestrone (vegan) and the one I haven't made yet! (will update blog by 9:00 am or so)

OMG! Did I mention the Spicy Mac & Cheese?! Yummy!

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Magic Beans

Today's Soups are Michael's very special Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup and Minestrone, an Italian vegetable soup (vegan).
Today's Panino Special is
The TCB - grilled turkey, cranberry and brie

And the Cranberry Orange Cream Cheese has been getting rave reviews.

OK, so the story about the beans will have to wait for another day. Sorry!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Today's Specials

Today's Soups are Minestrone, an Italian vegetable soup (vegan) and Bean and Bacon Soup, a white bean soup seasoned with locally cured ham hocks and bacon.

Today's Panino Specials are
The TCB - grilled turkey, cranberry and brie
Roasted Eggplant and Pesto Panino

There is also very nice Cranberry Orange Cream Cheese for your bagel or health toast.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Getting Over the Hump

Today's Soups are Minestrone, an Italian vegetable soup (vegan) and Bean and Bacon Soup, a white bean soup seasoned with locally cured ham hocks and bacon. We also have just a bit of the Aussie Pumpkin Soup left.

Today's Panino Specials are
The TCB - grilled turkey, cranberry and brie
Roasted Eggplant and Pesto Panino
The Torpedo - spicy Italian sausage, mozzarella and peperonata sauce

Stop by and try one of our "new" bagels - they are crazy delicious! Fresh from the ovens of Towson Hot Bagels, they are a welcome addition to breakfast at Carma's Cafe. To celebrate, I've made up a batch of Cranberry Orange Cream Cheese Spread.

The bagel guys in Towson are open on Sunday so stop by if you're out in the 'burbs running errands.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Happy Messy Tuesday

Today's Soups are a traditional Bean and Bacon Soup, a white bean soup seasoned with locally cured ham hocks and bacon. We also have Aussie Pumpkin Soup, a spicy Asian-influenced vegetarian soup.

Today's Panino Specials are
Roasted Eggplant and Pesto Panino
The Torpedo - spicy Italian sausage, mozzarella and peperonata sauce
The TCB - grilled turkey, cranberry and brie

If I may make a suggestion? Give the Cafe a call. Order some soup or a sandwich and a Cherry Moon Green Tea (or a 3 shot latte if that's your thing). Go home. Curl up on the sofa with your food, a hot beverage and a good book or your knitting. Because really, isn't that what you want to do?

Projecting much?

BTW, you can call in an order anytime. Put us on speed dial! 410-243-5200

Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday and we're off to the races!

Today's Soups: Aussie Pumpkin, Thai influenced pumpkin soup from Down Under - flavored with lemongrass and coconut milk. Our very popular Potato Leek is also available.

By popular demand we are continuing The Torpedo Panino Special and the Roasted Eggplant, Pesto & Mozzarella Panino.

Big day today. Someone is coming by to show me new ceramic mugs! Hallelujah. More to come on that sore subject later. Shopping and coffee hour. Have a great week.