10/29/09

Pork Salad, New Dishes & Simple Dessert

This is really not a recipe post at all. Mainly I just wanted to share a few pictures of the new dishes that I bought at Crate & Barrel outlet over the weekend: the pretty white bowl and a few martini-shaped (but short stemmed!) glasses.

Over the weekend I made a Pork Chop & Cherry recipe for Robyn's blog and had one pork chop. I decided to make salad with it.

Given that it's fall, I wanted to incorporate some fruit to the salad: so here it is!

Pork, Fruit & Feta Salad

Ingredients

cooked pork chop, cubed
grapefruit, segmented
grapes, halved
spinach
feta
olive oil
salt & pepper

Directions

Combine the first 5 ingredients, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt & pepper if you feel like it.

The pictures below are of a composed version of the salad. I really liked the sweetness of the grapes and grapefruit contrasted by the salty flavor of feta.



And now for dessert: all this is a pomegranate/vanilla sorbet (store bought), drizzled with some chocolate syrup and sprinkled with almonds. Delicious!



Don't you think these glasses would be so cool for cold soups? Hmm, is it too late to make gazpacho?

10/27/09

Daring Bakers: Macaroons

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macaroons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Let me start from the beginning...3 or so years ago Anna, my twin, decided to go to Paris for a long weekend because of great sales on airfare. Of course she invited me to go with her, but I thought it was ridiculous to go to the City of Love and Romance with my twin sister. I said "no." Then, of course, I changed my mind and bought the tickets. Yes, I change my mind often. Anna, her friend Jen, and I had an incredible time in Paris, despite the cold February weather.

Throughout the trip, Anna kept on mentioning that we simply must go to Laduree: on, and on she went. It was getting slightly ridiculous. And then, we got to Laduree: and OMG! It was so worth it: it was there that I had my firsts taste of macaroons (French, not American). And I was in love! Below are a few photos from that trip:

Then, 2 years ago, I was on a solo trip in San Francisco, and discovered great macaroons in the Ferry Terminal Building from Miette Patisserie--photo below.


For the last few years I have been contemplating making macaroons, but was too afraid. Imagine my excitement and trepidation when this month's challenge turned out to be macaroons!

I'm not posting the recipe here (it's a bit long), but if you want it, let me know and I'll email it to you.

I made my own almond flour, but used store-bought chocolate spread.

Taste-wise, the challenge was a success; look-wise, not so much.

As you can see, I did not get "feet" on my macaroons--they rather spread out.



They also totally stuck to the silicon mat.

Still, in their own imperfect way, I think they look rather pretty.




I think I shall summon up a bit more bravery and try to make macaroons again at some point ;)

10/25/09

Vegetable & Tofu Coconut Soup

Last Monday I was feeling blue and had very little appetite (something that doesn't happen to me too often).

I decided to make something warming, flavorful, easy and colorful for dinner to try and cheer up slightly.

This soup basically includes chopped vegetables, canned vegetables, tofu and a few other ingredients.

It's incredibly easy to make and is great as leftovers.

Serve it on its own or with rice, something my friend Jenn likes to do when we order a similar soup at our favorite sushi restaurant (yes, they have both Japanese and Thai dishes).







Ingredients for 4-6 portions

32 ounces chicken stock
1 can coconut milk + same amount water
2 inch ginger piece, peeled and sliced into planks
2 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
1 cup broccoli florets
1-2 tablespoons curry paste
5 ounce can diced chestnuts, drained
1/2 snowpeas, halved
1/2 can miniature corn
juice of 1/2 lime
12 ounce container tofu, cubed

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in the pot. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Seriously? Seriously! It's that easy. Adjust the flavor and taste with more curry paste and lime juice. Serve garnished with cilantro.
3. If you want to be a bit more scientific, combine chicken stock, coconut milk, curry paste and ginger first. Then add the vegetables (start with those that would take the longest to cook).

10/23/09

A Story of Salt

When I was little, my mom told me a fairy tale about salt. Salt? Seriously? Yes! Maybe that's where my love for food started.

The tale goes something like this: There was a king, who had 3 daughters. One day, the king asked his daughters: "How much do you love me?" "I love you as much as gold," said the first daughter. "I love you as much as diamonds," said the second daughter. "I love you as much as salt," said the third daughter. "Like salt?" asked the king and threw that daughter out of the kingdom--after all, salt doesn't cost nearly as much as does the gold or the diamonds.

As soon as the third daughter was thrown out of the kingdom, all the salt had magically disappeared. It was only then that the king and all the people in the kingdom found out how truly valuable salt is. Without salt, most of the food would be rather bland.

Needless to say, the third daughter was asked to come back, the king apologized, and everyone lived happily ever after eating delicious food seasoned with salt.

And that brings me to tell you about a super cute package I received from Marx Foods a few weeks ago. It was a little square box with the words "Goodies inside" printed on the side of the box. Being an impatient person, I started opening the box while still taking the elevator to my apartment.

Inside there were mini packets of salt: all colors and flavors imaginable! Look how cute they are: I organized them by color, like the clothes in a fancy store. (Click on each photo to see better details.)

So far, I have used the smoky salt, the lime salt and the Hawaiian pink sea salt. The strongest flavor was definitely from the smoky salt. I look forward to experimenting with the other varieties.

If you'd like a chance to win some awesome stuff from Marx Foods, click on the photo below: good luck!

10/22/09

Buy Pie, Help Others

A while ago my friend Lisa formed a team of DC area food bloggers to raise money for Food & Friends. I'll copy/paste her message in a minute, but wanted to also share a few photos from the Pie Tasting event held this past Tuesday.

Volunteers Charles & Debbie handing out samples of pumpkin pie.

And now from Lisa:

This Thanksgiving, by working together, you and I have the opportunity to put nutritious meals on the tables of thousands in need just by purchasing your Holiday pies from Food & Friends. Food & Friends is selling Harvest Apple Crumb, Picture Perfect Pumpkin and Oh So Sweet Potato for $25 each, and Southern Pecan and Creamy Chocolate Cheesecake for $35 each. Each pie you purchase will directly impact the lives of children and adults facing HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses. Unfortunately, this is becoming more and more common in our daily lives.

...more from Lisa:

There are multiple ways in which you can get involved: PURCHASE PIES for yourself, or as gifts for friends, family, clients or colleagues. You can also purchase the pies which Food & Friends’ clients will receive with their Thanksgiving dinner. JOIN ME & HELP PROMOTE SLICE OF LIFE! Send an email to your friends and family asking them to support our team’s efforts to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors in need. MAKE A DONATION. Every penny counts this season.To Purchase Your Pies & Join the Team, visit www.foodandfriends.org/pie and Select Dining in DC Unites Food Bloggers for a Cause.

Food & Friends home-delivers specialized meals and provides nutrition services to men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses. Services are free of charge and offered to individuals who qualify on their health need alone. Since their beginning in 1988, thanks to the help of generous donors like you, Food & Friends has delivered more than 11 million meals to more than 18,000 individuals.

Note from me: you don't have to live in DC area to support this organization. If like me, you will be out of town the week of Thanksgiving, you can simply donate!

10/20/09

Beef & Black Bean Enchiladas

Although I live by myself, most of my recipes can be doubled or tripled: enough to feed a crowd or to last as leftovers for several days. This Beef & Black Bean Enchiladas recipe serves as a perfect example.

Using simple ingredients, you can make a hearty meal that takes minutes to put together and can be served for lunch or dinner. If you have kids in your household, I'm sure they'd be more than happy to help you assemble the enchiladas.

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef
lime salt to taste (thanks Marx Foods!)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
19 ounce can enchilada sauce
1 cup brown rice, cooked according to directions on the package
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 green chili pepper, minced
8 flour tortillas
15.5 ounce can black refried beans
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
extras: sour cream, cilantro, salsa, guacamole

Directions

1. Brown the ground beef with lime salt, chili and cumin. Add 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce. Mix.
2. Add drained tomatoes and diced chili pepper to the rice. Mix.
3. To assemble the enchiladas, spread refried black beans on a tortilla. Top with rice and ground beef mixture. Top with cheddar cheese. Roll.

4. Preheat the oven to 375.
5. Add enough enchilada sauce to cover the bottom of 9x13 Pyrex dish. Once the enchiladas are rolled, put them into the sauced dish seam-side down. Top with the remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.


6. Bake for 20 minutes.

7. Serve enchiladas with sour cream, salsa, cilantro and guacamole (I wish I had guacamole, but I did not).

Variations: the beauty of this dish is how versatile it is. You can substitute ground beef with ground turkey or chicken, or use leftover pulled pork. You can make the entire dish vegetarian! Of course you can also use any type of cheese you want and add regular black or pinto beans instead of refried beans.

What's your favorite way to make enchiladas?

10/18/09

Virgin POM Mojito

Morning, world.

It's gray and cold outside, but at least it stopped raining.

Remember how I told you about receiving 8 mini POM bottles from Kristen, the P♥M blogger? Well, not only did I use the juice to flavor water and to add as a glaze to brownies, I also made a Virgin POM Mojito with it last week.

Why virgin? Because despite being Russian, I don't really drink much (you know, the stereotypes and all?). Plus, I did not have any alcohol at home other than white wine.

It's best to use a tall glass for this Virgin POM Mojito so that the mint settles on the bottom and you can enjoy the bubbly combination of Perrier and the sweet/tart flavor of POM.

All of my tall glasses, however, are green, blue and purple, so I decided to use a wine glass instead to take photographs.

Justify Full




Ingredients for 1 drink

1 lemon wedge
sugar
2 tablespoons mint
1/2 cup POM
1/2 cup Perrier


Directions

1. "Paint" the rim of your glass with a lemon wedge. Dip it in sugar.
2. Put the mint on the bottom of the glass and using the handle of a wood spoon, bruise the leaves to release the flavor.
3. Top the mint leaves with POM juice and Perrier. Drink immediately.









10/16/09

Minty Brownie Bites with Pomegranate Glaze

This week I attended a knitting event at the Washington DC Jewish Community Center and decided to bring something sweet to snack on.

Who doesn't like chocolate, right? The way I came up with this recipe will demonstrate to you how most of my recipes are born. Last week, I was testing a recipe for Robyn which required mint extract. Obviously, the recipe did not use the entire bottle of the extract, and so I had quite a bit of it left. Also, a few weeks ago I received 8 mini POM bottles from Kristen, the P♥M blogger. I decided to combine these two ingredients with a store-bought brownie mix to make Minty Brownie Bites with Pomegranate Glaze.

Ingredients

1 brownie boxed mix (mine required 1 egg, 1/4 cup oil and 1/2 cup water)
1/4 teaspoon mint extract
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons confectionery sugar
2 tablespoons POM juice

Directions
1. Preheat the oven according to directions on the brownie mix's box.
2. Mix together the brownie ingredients with mint extract [be very careful in measuring out the mint extract, and do so in a separate dish, not over the mixing bowl: you don't want your brownie bites to taste like toothpaste].
3. Divide the brownie batter among the 32 lined mini cupcake molds.
4. Bake for 25 minutes.
5. Let the brownies cool completely.



6. To make the glaze, whisk together confectionery sugar and POM juice. If you want the glaze to be thicker, add more sugar.
7. Spoon the glaze over the minty brownie bites. Let it set and enjoy with a glass of milk.



These were quite a success! Of course you can also make this recipe in a 9x13 Pyrex dish, you'll just have to bake the brownies for a longer amount of time. But there is something so adorable about the mini bites :)

10/14/09

Daring Cooks: Pho

The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

I was SO excited to learn that the challenge for October was Pho: I LOVE Pho, but have never made it. You can't imagine how incredibly simple this recipe is. I followed the recipe to a t other than an addition of a carrot (looking back on it, I also should have added some basil).

For the Chicken Pho Broth:
2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
½ onion
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce
1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)


Accompaniments:
2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Hoisin sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice


Directions:
To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning. In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.


Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.

Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.

Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package. Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl. Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.

LOVED IT!


10/13/09

Mushroom Soup

This is the last recipe featuring mushrooms I received from Marx Foods. In fact, I was planning to try my hand at marinating the mushrooms, but chickened out at the very last moment.

This is a very simple pureed mushroom soup. I'll be the first one to admit that it doesn't look very appetizing, but it has a very rich and earthy flavor from the mushrooms and a creamy texture thanks to milk and a bit of cream.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cups chopped mushrooms
1 onion, diced
2 cups milk
1/4 cup cream
salt & pepper
fresh mint




Directions

1. Heat oil in a soup pot. Add mushrooms and onions and cook for about 30 minutes, till tender.
2. Season mushrooms/onions with salt and pepper and let cool slightly.
3. Puree the vegetable mixture in a blender with milk and cream. Depending on your desired soup texture, you might want to add more liquid.
4. Gently reheat the soup in a soup pot and serve garnished with mint.

Quick note: the spoon you see in this photo is from Moscow! This spoon is probably older than I am: scary :) I took it with me when I moved from Seattle to DC area after college. It has served me well.

Important: if you have enjoyed my mushroom recipes, please vote for me here (just choose Mango & Tomato). Thank you!