Wine And Lamb In Loudoun County Virginia With American Lamb Board

This past Sunday I was a lucky duck. Maybe duck isn't exactly the right word since this post is about lamb. Lamb and wine. And the lovely people of American Lamb Board.

I've had a working relationship with the American Lamb Board for multiple years and have enjoyed participating in their lamb recipe competitions as well as judging the latest Lamb Jam in DC. I was thrilled to be invited on a mini trip to visit Zephaniah Farm Vinery, learn about lamb butchery, and of course eat some lamb and drink some wine.

The photograph above is of the original building where the wine tastings take place. Can I move in there? I love how romantic and dreamy and old the building looks. We did not get a chance to go inside because the wine tasting and lunch took place in the new modern building, which was gorgeous in its own way.

The Hatch family has farmed in Loudoun for 64 years and three generations.  From these years on the farm, we have grown to understand the land.  We work to honor the land we love and to preserve its productivity and integrity. 

What is significant about Zephaniah?  Our family tends the grapes by hand.  We are the ones who care for the vines and the grapes through every season. Harvest is accomplished by family and friends. They know the level of care we put into every part of the process.  Our wine is truly hand crafted.

We tried four varieties of wine. The Adeline was my favorite: not only was it crisp and slightly on a sweet side, but it also shares the name with my friend's newborn daughter ;)

What goes with wine? Food! We feasted on roasted vegetables, freshly baked bread, one of the best potato au gratin I've had in years, and of course lamb from Mill Road Farm. I especially liked the lamb that was smoked. And just to be healthy, there was a great salad with butternut squash and pumpkin seeds.

Mill Road Farm honors the land by producing pasture-fed Angus, lamb and honey.  We sell our farm products at the Loudoun Farmers Market in Leesburg on Saturday mornings year round and at Cascades Farmers Market on Sunday mornings during the summer market season.

I love that two brothers own and run this operation: Bill is in charge of the wine and Chris is in charge of the lamb!

Then it was time for some serious work. Luckily, we weren't allowed to butcher a full lamb...I probably would have passed out. Instead, Matt Levere of Urban Butcher showed off his amazing skills. He made the whole task look as easy as cutting soft butter. Every piece of lamb gets weighed, used, and appreciated.

We also got to see the sheep!

I can't leave you without a recipe. This is a dinner I actually made a few weeks ago that takes about 15 minutes from start to finish:

1. Salt and pepper a few lamb loin chops.
2. Heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté the chops a few minutes on each side. If you are like me, you'll want the chops to be plenty bloody in the middle.
3. Meanwhile, sauté thinly sliced mushrooms and radishes in a bit of olive oil till tender. Season with salt and pepper and add a few dashes of half & half.
4. Serve the lamb loin chops with sautéed vegetables topped with chives and a few toasted slices of baguette.
And wine!

For more inspiration, check out some of the other lamb dishes I've made and consumed over the years.

Disclosure: I was invited on this field trip, but am not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.


Scallion Matzah Brei With Smoked Salmon And Horseradish Cream From The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen By Amelia Saltsman

Last week I shared with you my adaptation of a recipe from a preview copy of Amelia Saltsman's cookbook The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen for Roasted Carrot And Sweet Potato Tzimmes.

Today I bring you my take on Amelia's Green Garlic And Leek Matzah Brei With Smoked Salmon And Horseradish Cream.  My store did not have green garlic or leeks, so I used scallions. I also used a flipping method of turning the matzah brei instead of cutting into wedges and flipping each wedge individually so that the second side will brown as Amelia instructed in the book.

Scallion Matzah Brei With Smoked Salmon And Horseradish Cream
Adapted From The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen By Amelia Saltsman

olive oil
10 scallions, chopped
4 sheets matzah
4 eggs
salt & pepper

Greek yogurt
smoked salmon

1. Drizzle olive oil into a large nonstick skillet. Sauté scallions until they have softened and browned slightly.
2. In a small bowl, crumble the matzah, cover with hot water and let sit for about a minute. Drain out the water, slightly squeezing the matzah.
3. In a separate bowl, crack and whisk the eggs. Add the matzah and sautéed scallions. Season with salt and pepper and combine.
4. Heat the original skillet again, drizzling in more olive oil. Once the oil is hot, pour in the matzah mixture and with a spatula make sure it is leveled.
5. Allow the mixture to cook for 5 minutes, then very carefully slide it out of the skillet onto a large dinner plate.
6. Then, again very carefully, flip the "pancake" back into the skillet and cook for 5-7 more minutes.
7. Slice the matzah brei into wedges and serve with Greek yogurt mixed with horseradish (as much as you want), a few slices of smoked salmon, fresh dill and a squeeze of lemon juice and a bit of lemon zest.

This is a great brunch dish or a perfect Meatless Monday dinner (if you don't consider fish meat). This recipe is also good to make on a Sunday and have for breakfast for the next few days.

To reheat, it's best to sauté the matzah brei in a bit of olive oil in a skillet.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the cookbook but am not being compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.


Delicata Squash Boats With Spicy Chicken Balls And Mozzarella & #CareToFarm15

In the words of Joel McHale from The Soup, Let's talk about chicks, man!

Did I grab your attention? I hope so.

Last week I flew to Greenville, North Carolina courtesy of Philbro to learn about chickens. My transportation, hotel and meals were taken care of. All I had to do was show up, learn, eat, and mingle with other bloggers. I was excited, but also a bit nervous.

I'm a city girl. What do I know about raising chickens? Honestly, not much. It was only a few months ago that I had to ask my good friend Era who has her own chickens how they have fresh eggs without having a rooster. I'm not even kidding!

In case you are as clueless as I was, you don't need a rooster to get an egg (the kind of egg you buy at the grocery store or farmers market and turn into an omelet or egg salad, etc). If you want the type of an egg that will eventually turn into a little chick and then a grown chicken, you need a rooster. To fertilize the egg.

Easy enough.

Philbro is a company in the business of taking care of animals. We met with the Senior Vice President of Philbro, Warren Harper, and veterinarian Leah Dorman, just to name a few. I was amazed at how passionate these two were about doing their best to provide the best life for chickens (before we ate them!).

If you are a vegetarian, I guess you can skip this post.

During the trip we visited a hatchery and saw the process of how eggs are hatched. I loved how clean the facility was and how every aspect was controlled: the temperature, the humidity, the rotation of the eggs.  We also saw the little chicks after they hatched. I even held one! That was a big step for me.

The little chicks were vaccinated: that's to protect them. By the time we eventually consume the chickens, there is no trace of vaccine in them.

The next step was for the little chicks to go to the poultry farm. I was a bit nervous that we'll be inside a house with a zillion chickens on top of one another. That was not the case at all. Instead, the little chicks had plenty of space, monitored food and water, and again controlled heat, humidity, etc.

They were really well taken care of.

After I came home, I decided to make a recipe using ground chicken. You could also use pork or turkey. It's up to you.

Delicata Squash Boats With Spicy Chicken Balls And Mozzarella
Makes 4

2 delicata squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 pound ground chicken
1 egg
1/4 cup panko
2 tablespoons half & half
1 chipotle in adobo sauce, minced
1 tablespoon adobo sauce {use less if you don't like spicy food}
8 basil leaves, chopped
14.5 ounce can tomato sauce
20 tiny mozzarella balls, or use 1 cup shredded mozzarella
garnish: basil leaves
side: rice

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place delicata squash cut side up into a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 50 minutes.
2. In a bowl, combine ground chicken, egg, panko crumbs, chipotle, adobo sauce, half & half, and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Make meatballs. I made 12.
3. Heat olive oil in a skillet and brown the chicken meatballs until they are golden brown on all sides. Remove from the skillet.
4. Add tomato sauce into the skillet and bring to a simmer. Add back the meatballs and simmer covered for 20 minutes.
5. Once the squash is roasted, add meatballs into the "boats" making sure to cover them with tomato sauce. Top with mozzarella and bake for 10 more minutes until the cheese has melted.
6. Serve with fresh basil and a side of rice.

These were really great and reheat well as leftovers. The skin of the delicata squash gets soft enough during the roasting process to eat.

Disclosure: The trip accommodations were paid by Philbro. I'm not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.


Roasted Carrot And Sweet Potato Tzimmes From The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen By Amelia Saltsman

I'm a bad Jew.

There, I said it.

I don't keep kosher. I don't date Jewish men. I don't fast on Yom Kippur.

BUT I love Jewish food and traditions and culture, and have a pretty star of David pendant I bought in Israel years ago...so maybe I'm not that bad after all ;)

Speaking of Jewish food, I was excited to receive a preview copy of Amelia Saltsman's cookbook The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen a few weeks ago from Sterling Epicure. The first thing that impressed me about the book were the gorgeous photos by Staci Valentine: I'm somewhat tempted to cut a few of them out and frame them for my kitchen's gallery wall.

The format of the cookbook is different from your typical appetizers, main course and dessert. Instead, Amelia organizes the chapters by the month of the year starting with September because that's the start of the Jewish New Year.

Each chapter has recipes using seasonal ingredients, descriptions of holidays, sample menu ideas and personal stories. The end of the book contains an index of dishes by course (starters, salads, soups, sides, etc). I love that the recipes come from many parts of the world: this gives the book a global feel and a wider appeal. You don't have to be Jewish to cook from this book: you simply have to love good food.

The first recipe I tried was Roasted Carrot And Sweet Potato Tzimmes. I simplified the directions and scaled the recipe down. See my thoughts below.

"Tzimmes is an eastern European stew of carrots and/or sweet potatoes and prunes traditionally cooked with beef flanken, often sweetened with brown or white sugar, and sometimes thickened with flour. In Yiddish, the word tzimmes means "a big fuss."

Roasted Carrot And Sweet Potato Tzimmes From The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen By Amelia Saltsman
Slightly altered from the original recipe

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, then each piece cut into 3-4 cubes
4 carrots, peeled, cut into 2" pieces
2 large shallots, peeled, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
10 prunes, halved
zest and juice of 2 oranges {I used a peeler to make long ribbons and then cut them into strips}
zest of 1 lemon {I used a peeler to make long ribbons and then cut them into strips}

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a baking dish combine all the ingredients: I used 9x13" Le Creuset. {One pot meal!}
3. Make sure the vegetables and prunes are in one layer as they go into the oven.
4. Roast the vegetables for about an hour making sure to turn them a few times.
5. Serve over rice.



My condo smelled amazing! This dish can be served hot or at room temperature and will be a great vegetarian side to grace any holiday table. Definitely bookmark this recipe for Thanksgiving!

I have at least 10 other recipes that I want to make from Amelia's cookbook! Stay tuned for matza brei recipe I made yesterday for breakfast: I'll write about it next week.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the cookbook but am not being compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.


Fennel And Kohlrabi Salad With Fruit And Mango Vinaigrette

Happy Monday! Are you trying to eat better? Are you trying to follow Meatless Monday rules? Are you not a fan of lettuce? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then my Fennel And Kohlrabi Salad With Fruit And Mango Vinaigrette is perfect for you!

Over the weekend I tried to use most of the produce I ordered from Washington Green Grocer because I'll be out of town at the end of the week. I also tried to eat somewhat better after a decadent meal I had at Art & Soul on Friday.

The salad contains no lettuce: that's how I like it. Instead, it combines strong flavors from fennel and kohlrabi with the sweetness of apples and peaches. The vinaigrette uses mango butter I made earlier, but if you don't have it, you can use peach jam or apple butter.

Fennel And Kohlrabi Salad With Fruit And Mango Vinaigrette
Serves 1-2

1 fennel bulb, bottom trimmed, thinly sliced
1-2 kohlrabi, pealed, thinly sliced
1 apple, thinly sliced
1 peach, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons mango butter
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced (or use a microplane!)
salt & pepper to taste

fennel tops

1. In a bowl, place all the sliced vegetables and fruit.
2. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients. Taste. You may want to add more oil or mango butter or salt.
3. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and top with fennel tops.

I loved the textures, colors and flavors of this salad. Part of the salad screamed summer (peaches), while the other part of the salad (apples) said welcome fall!


Where To Have Brunch In Capitol Hill: Hank's Oyster Bar

It's almost the weekend! There is no secret that I love a weekend brunch. Sometimes I stay in and cook, sometimes I go out.

Today I wanted to give a shout out to an awesome brunch I had at Hank's Oyster Bar last month. It all started when a friend told me her friend will be visiting DC and wanted me to give a few suggestions for touristy things to do. I love showing people around my city and sharing my favorite places to check out. Priya's friend Francesca was visiting DC for the first time and had scheduled a tour of the Capitol building late Saturday morning. I thought brunch in the Eastern Market area would be perfect. We met. Ate. Strolled around Eastern Market. Perfect!!!

I love that Hank's Oyster Bar starts each meal with a bowl of gold fish crackers. For free.

I had a Bloody Mary to start my brunch and it was awesome. Not too boozy. Spicy. Delicious.

We then ordered a few oysters to share. This was Francesca's first time eating oysters and I have a feeling it will not be her last.

For my main entrée I ordered smoked trout hash in dill sauce. I had to hold off from licking the plate.

And for dessert, each person dining at Hank's gets a free bowl of dark chocolate chunks. What a great idea!!! I wish every restaurant did this ;)

Where have you had brunch lately?


What To Do With Dried Mangoes? Mango Butter Recipe!

Happy Wednesday!

How often do you clean your refrigerator? I don't do it often enough, so when last week I took everything out in order to clean my fridge, I found a bag of dried mangoes my parents sent me when I broke my arm over a year ago.

At first I considered throwing away the dried mangoes, but then I felt guilty. My parents spent the money to buy and ship the mangoes and it was such a sweet gesture. So..............I made mango butter!!

This is a method and not a recipe per say.

2 cups dried mangoes
3 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Place dried mangoes into a cooking vessel: a skillet or a pot or a pan.
2. Cover the dried mangoes with water and add a few drops of vanilla extract.
3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the mangoes become soft and most of the water is evaporated.
4. Cool the mixture and add to a blender. Blend until smooth.

You can't imagine how sweet my condo smelled. Speaking of sweetness, my dried mangoes were super sweet so there was no need to add sugar. You can do as you please.

So far I've had the mango butter on toast with peanut butter and also made something cold with it: stay tuned!


Apple Walnut Honey Cake For Rosh Hashanah

Last night was Jewish New Year known as Rosh Hashanah. Although you may find multiple spellings of the name, a few things remain the same: you are encouraged to eat honey and apples to signify sweet things to come in the new year. Who doesn't want a bit of sweetness?

To celebrate the New Year I baked Apple Walnut Honey Cake adapted from a recipe I made a few years back for Honey Nut Date Cake that was mildly adapted from Tori Avey's recipe.

Now that I've properly given credit to the origins of the recipe, let me tell you about a few changes that I've made.

1. I did not have cake flour. Luckily, Lisa told me I can make my own: for each cup of regular flour, take out 2 tablespoons of flour and add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.
2. I eliminated the dates and used an apple instead.
3. I was short on oil and used some Greek yogurt to compensate.
4. No nutmeg!!!

{Note, I did not use a pomegranate in the recipe. I wanted to show you a cute idea of writing a greeting or a person's name on a pomegranate to use as decoration or a name card before eating it! Also, pomegranates are important in Judaism...not to mention delicious!!}

Apple Walnut Honey Cake
Makes 1 8" loaf

1 cup flour, minus 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 small apple or 3/4 large apple, chopped
oil for the cake pan

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Sift together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and cinnamon. Add salt. If you try to sift the salt, it'll stay in the sieve because the holes are too small.
3. In a separate bowl whisk oil, yogurt, sugar, honey, eggs and vanilla and add to the flour mixture.
4. Fold in walnuts and apples.
5. Grease the pan with oil and pour in the cake batter. Bake for about an hour or until a toothpick comes out dry when you insert it in the middle of the cake.

Ta da! The cake smelled amazing! Allow the cake to cool before you attempt to remove it from the pan. The pan, by the way, is Polish pottery I bought at Marshalls ;) I ♥ it.

This cake was lighter and less sweet than Tori's original version, but just as good. I liked the walnut pieces on the chunkier side.

This Apple Walnut Honey Cake is perfect as dessert, snack or breakfast with a glass of milk, or a cup of coffee. You can make it any time for a fall get together!


Vegetarian Pinto Beans Breakfast Bowl With A Fried Egg

Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch or Dinner, this Vegetarian Pinto Beans Breakfast Bowl With A Fried Egg is right for any meal!

First, please cook pinto beans from scratch. No need to soak. Add them to a pot, cover with water, add some salt, maybe a few garlic cloves and/or dried chili peppers. Or pepper corns. Or onion skins. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook covered for a few hours. I know that sounds hard, but really, you can take a nap, or watch a few episodes of Call the Midwife, or exercise or clean your closet. Your house will be filled with a wonderful warm scent of beans ;)

The rest of the bowl is even easier...as long as you don't overcook the egg as I did.

Salsa, cheese and guacamole.

Serve with toast.

And if you are very ambitious, make sure to make your own bowls ;) As in take a pottery class and make your own dishes out of clay!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!


Where To Buy Food Styling Props? Make Them!

Hi! I don't have a recipe for you today. Instead, I wanted to share a few of the pieces I've made in my pottery class. Tonight is my last class, so I'll have about 6 more projects to post about later this month, but for now, these are the first ones that I've completed.

Don't you love the combination of blue and yellow?

It has been a long time since my first pottery class in high school. I remember how much I loved working on the wheel and seeing what I can make from a lump of clay. I also remember how heartbreaking it was when a piece you were working on broke or was stolen.

10 weeks ago I signed up for pottery classes at Hinckley Pottery in hopes of getting my creative juices to flow, have some fun activity to look forward to and to make a few pieces I can use in my every day life as well as to feature on the blog.

The piece below was an accident. After making a pretty round little bowl, I bumped into it with my hand causing the opening to become crooked. Instead of throwing away the entire bowl, I decided to cut out a piece of the "mouth." I think it turned out rather pretty. Although the photos below show strawberries, currently I'm using it to hold garlic.

The bowl/plate below is my favorite! You'll be seeing it a lot on the blog ;) I love eating out of something that I made with my own hands. The glaze is called mamo, and I love that it's matte finish and really allows the food to shine.


The little "jar" below was inspired by two pieces of pottery I bought in Asheville. Unfortunately, it has a hole on the bottom, but I may try to use it as a tiny planter. It was fun to work on making a textured container.

And finally a plant container and a vase. Because I love flowers ;)