2/28/11

Cream cheese pancakes with fruit salad

Last week Rachael, aka FujiMama, tweeted that it was a pancake week, which made me think of a recipe for Mascarpone Pancakes that I've made last year. Those pancakes were fluffy, slightly sweet, and super easy to make.

I usually don't make pancakes from scratch: a boxed mix with a few additions does the trick for me, but those Mascarpone pancakes were definitely worth the time it took to measure a few ingredients. I decided to recreate the recipe, but use cream cheese instead: less expensive, more affordable, and whatever was left could easily be spread on a bagel.

But first, instead of a syrup to pour on top of the pancakes, I decided to make a fruit salad from champagne mangoes, watermelon and grapes. Special thanks to Stacey Viera for taking me to Food Star grocery store on Friday where I bought these mangoes and also a bunch of Latin food. {Look out for a post about Puerto Rican Lasagna on Wednesday.}


And now time to make the pancakes!

Cream Cheese Pancakes
Printable Recipe 

{Note: this is something new I'm trying: you will now be able to print recipes on Mango & Tomato. Huge thanks to Food Bloggers Unite & Closet Cooking}

Ingredients (enough for 2 people)
1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons whole milk
3/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions
1. In a bowl whip the cream cheese with a hand blender. Add the egg, vanilla, and milk and blend together. Using a hand blender really helps to get rid off as many lumps as possible.



2. Sift together flour, sugar and baking powder and add to the wet ingredients. Incorporate well. Let the mixture sit for at least 5 minutes.
3. Heat a bit of canola oil in a cast iron skillet and using a rounded tablespoon pour the pancakes mixture into the skillet. Brown for a few minutes on each side.
4. Serve with the fruit salad.


These weren't nearly as luxurious as the Mascarpone pancakes, but they were still fluffy and delicious. The recipe made about 10 pancakes: you can share them with someone or refrigerate and reheat them the next day. Of course they aren't going to taste as good as when you've just made them.


What's your favorite pacake recipe? What do you like to add to yours? Whipped cream? Syrup? Jam? Chocolate syrup?


Here are a few other pancakes recipes to try:
Pancakes with peaches and chocolate chips
POM & Cherry pancakes
and if you are in the mood for something savory, Broccoli pancakes

2/26/11

What to serve for an Oscars party

Sunday is a big day for movie lovers: Oscars!!! Are you going to be watching? Do you care more about the outfits, who the stars bring along as their dates or who actually wins the Golden Statue?

Regardless, what to serve for an Oscars party must be a question on your minds!

Recently I was contacted by Nevin Martell who writes for Express and asked if they could use my Eggplant & Tomato Dip recipe for a feature about what food to serve during an Oscars party. Of course I said yes! Below is that feature: I'm in good company: the other recipes are by Chef Jeff Trunks of Acadianarestaurant.com and Chef Nora Pouillon of Noras.com. Of course my recipe has the least number of ingredients and steps...but I'm sure you would have guessed that. {Make sure to scroll down for a what I hope you'll find a fun pairing of Best Picture nominated films with food!}


Surely, the eggplant dip would not be enough. To make this a bit more fun, I decided to pair up my suggestions with the Best Picture nominees. Let me know what you think ;)


Black Swan: Black & White Chili: because you know, one swan is black and another one is white, and plus chili is a great one-pot meal to have when you have company! Don't forget to make cornbread! {Loved this movie!}
The Fighter: Fighting makes me think of bruises, which are blue, so why not make Blueberry & Coconut Scones? That'd be an incredibly easy and tasty dessert. {Great movie!}  
Inception: This was quite a confusing (in a good way) movie, with many twists and turns, which might make your head spin...so why not have a Pama & Berry drink?
The Kids Are All Right: I absolutely hated this movie. I thought it was high on stereotypes and there was a lot of unnecessary s*x! But since it dealt partially with kids, how about egg in a hole? Who doesn't like those?
The King's Speech: I've got to watch this movie: heard so many good things about it. So, what's fit for a king or a queen? Nothing but red caviar, of course! 
127 Hours: 127 hours is a very long time! It's enough time to make your own phyllo dough for these mushroom & ricotta filled phyllo triangles. Of course you can also simply buy phyllo at your local grocery store.
The Social Network: Facebook is all about reconnecting with old friends, right? Or is it to look up your frenemies and ex boyfriends!? :) I'd like to share with you a great party dip by my friend Jenny: Chicken dip with mayonnaise, cheese, salsa, etc. It's seriously good!
Toy Story 3: This is another movie I did not watch, but it looks colorful and fun! How about mini fritatas with broccoli and sun dried tomatoes? Plus, since these are individually made fritatas, you can customize them for each guest and they should be a hit with your kids!

True Grit: I did not see this movie either. But it has the word "grit" in the title, so you must go with polenta with mushrooms, bacon & onions. Before you start commenting, I know polenta is not exactly grits, but both are made from corn: close enough! Feel free to add shredded beef, pork or chicken to this dish.

Winter's Bone: I had to look up what this movie is about: poverty (at least partially). So what can you make on the cheap that will be a big hit? How about white bean & chipotle dip, hummus, or pickled red onions?
How are you planning on watching the Oscars? What food will you be serving? What movies are you rooting for?

2/24/11

What do Puerto Ricans Eat?

Have you ever wondered what Puerto Ricans eat? Well, food, of course! But each country has its own specialties, and of course the cuisine differs from region to region, with each restaurant and family adding its own flavor to well known dishes.

Over the Presidents' Day weekend, I made my third trip to Puerto Rico. My friend Jenny and I left the winter weather of DC and New York to fly and spend 5 days with our friend Laura, her husband and their 2 adorable boys. {Laura, Jenny and I started work within a week of one another and were Three Musketeers for a while until Laura left to Florida and then Puerto Rico and Jenny moved to New York City. But we still get together when Jenny and I visit Laura and her family wherever they are: that's what friends are for!}

Lets get back to food! The first night in Puerto Rico, Laura's mom made us a true Puerto Rican meal: rice and beans, fried plantains, beef, salad and big wedges of avocado. It was so lovely to sit together at a table, eat, drink red wine, and catch up.

A few days later, Laura and Jenny drove to a local bakery to pick up breakfast: potato croquettes stuffed with ham, rolls stuffed with ground beef and cheese rolls (the long ones). I wish you could smell this!


The rolls stuffed with ground beef were my favorite. I don't know what it is about ground beef, but I love it.


We had to leave and go see Carlos Manuel play his last soccer game of the season, so these were left behind. Alas, I did not get to try the cheese roll because it's really not good as leftovers.


Another day we had mofongo. Mofongo is sort of like a Sheppard's pie: it's either made from yucca or sweet plantains, or a combination of each and is stuffed with chicken (or beef or seafood) and vegetables. It's filling, comforting and smells amazing.

Of course with two little boys and running around and touring Caves and Bio Bay we also ate things like take out pizza, take out Argentinian steak (which was surprisingly cooked to medium rare and oh so good!) and even stopped at Burger King drive-through for a mid-night whopper!!!

Before the trip was over, Laura took us to visit her parents' "finca," which means farm. This wasn't a farm in the sense that it had animals, it was more like an awesome house in the country surrounded by fruit trees (including mangoes!) and orchid plants. Check out my other blog where I'll post some non-food photos soon.

On the way to "finca" we stopped by at Piratas Del Toro Al Diente restaurant, which is shaped like an old ship! This was really popular with families and kids and there was a line to get in.


While we waited for our names to be called, Laura's mom bought Jenny and me piraguas: it's shaved ice flavored with sugary liquid (I say sugary liquid because I really don't think it was juice).

Below is my friend Jenny holding her coconut drink and my lime/strawberry one.


Other than these drinks, there was also an abundance of candy!




And then it was finally time to eat! Check out the decor of the restaurant:



We ordered quite a bit of food to share: hot wings, fried calamari, rice and then a big platter filled with fries, shrimp wrapped in bacon, chicken and skirt steak: all on skewers!


And I just have to share these two photos of Fabian eating his fries: such concentration and determination!



Before I end this post, here is a photo of me, Laura and Jenny! This was such a fabulous trip!!!


Oops!!! It's not over yet: below are some photos from finca: oranges, grapefruit, mini mango and bananas!




toodles!!! adios!
oh! and I found a man!!! :)

2/21/11

Sweet potato vegetarian chili

Let's get one thing straight: for me, chili must have beans. It can be chicken chili, black & white chili or even chili topped with cornbread...one ingredient remaining the same is beans. Of course there are a variety of beans to use: kidney, black, garbanzo or Navy beans.
This time around I decided to make a vegetarian chili, but needed something to take the place of beef or chicken. Why not sweet potatoes?

Sweet Potato Vegetarian Chili

Ingredients

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, cubed and cooked in salted water
olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 chile pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
15 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
15 ounce can corn, drained
3 ounce can fire roasted mild diced green chiles
additions: sour cream, parsley


Directions
1. Heat oil in a large pan. Add onions, garlic and chile pepper in adobo and saute for about 5 minutes.
2. Add spices and carrots and cook for 10 minutes.
3. Add fire roasted tomatoes, corn and fire roasted diced green chiles. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Add cooked diced sweet potatoes and cook until they are heated through.


5. Serve topped with sour cream and parsley. You can also add chopped avocados and grated Cheddar.



Please let me know YOUR thoughts on chili: beans or no beans?

2/18/11

Moroccan chicken

This recipe for Moroccan chicken came about partially because my mom made it in Seattle, and my sister and my dad liked it. There is nothing strange about my sister and mom liking Moroccan chicken. But the fact that my dad liked a dish with spices other than your typical salt/pepper/garlic/parsley, is really saying something!

Last weekend I decided to have a few of my friends over for dinner and to make chili and cornbread. One pot dishes are my favorites: little work is required, and yet you have quite a bit of flavor. What does this have to do with Moroccan chicken, you might be wondering. Well, my twin, Anna, told me that she thought making chili for a dinner get together was rather boring and uninspiring. She suggested I make Moroccan chicken. And since Anna is older than me (by 30 minutes!), I listened.

I used some of the ingredients from the recipe my mom recited over the phone {she found it in a Costco magazine} and some of the spices from a recipe I've made for Robyn, and a few random additions of my own.

Moroccan Chicken (this is enough for 6-10 people)

Ingredients
olive oil
6 skinless & boneless chicken breasts, cubed
2 onions, thinly sliced (I used 1 red and 1 white)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pinch cayenne
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 green peppers cut into 1" chunks
28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
2 15 ounce cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup golden raisins
parsley, chopped
1/2  cup slivered almonds, toasted
cous cous, cooked


Directions
1. Heat a bit of oil in a large soup pot. In several batches cook the chicken for a few minutes. There is no need to brown it. You just want to make sure it's not pink on the outside. Remove the chicken from the pot.


2. Add a bit more oil if necessary. Add onions and garlic to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes.


3. Add spices and cook for 2 more minutes. I had to add a bit of water at this point (you can also add more oil if you want).
4. Add carrots and peppers and cook for 5 more minutes.


5. Add crushed tomatoes and garbanzo beans. Bring everything to a boil. Add the chicken back to the pot. Also drop in the golden raisins. If there isn't enough liquid to cover the chicken, add a bit of water. I had to add about a cup. No big deal: you can also add more tomatoes if you have them, wine or even chicken broth. It's not neuroscience: it's cooking! Don't be scared and have fun.

6. Bring everything to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for about 30 minutes. Make sure your chicken is cooked all the way through.

Note: I toasted the slivered almonds in a little cast iron skillet. You can toast them in the oven on a cookie sheet or even in a microwave.


Serve the Moroccan chicken over cous cous and top with almonds and parsley.


This dish turned out to be quite a party pleaser, which made me really happy.

Note: these are my new forks/spoons! Just something clean, classic and shiny ;)
Variations:

Use thighs instead of chicken breasts.
Add dried apricots instead of (or with) golden raisins.
Feel free to add other vegetables such as zucchini or thinly sliced potatoes.
You can also serve this as a stew without cous cous or serve it over mashed potatoes or rice.
What's your go to dish for a casual gathering with friends?

2/16/11

Avocado, pistachio & arugula sandwich

Last month I was invited by Dusty Lockhart of ThreeLockharts to a dinner at Cork to check out the latest items on their menu with some of the other DC food bloggers. I was excited! First, I had a great time when I first met Dusty at Bar Pilar: we had so much in common {our love of Brussels sprouts, dance movies, etc...it was almost like a great first date}. Second, I've heard of Cork, but have never been to it. And finally, a night of wine and food is never a bad thing in my opinion.

From the restaurant's website:

"Cork Restaurant & Wine Bar is the creation of Logan Circle residents Diane Gross and Khalid Pitts. Our dream in creating Cork was to open a welcoming space in our neighborhood for people to come with their friends and family to try outstanding wines, often from unexplored regions of the world, paired with good, simple, local food."
Diane and Khalid were our hosts for the night, and it actually felt like we were inside their home...perhaps the presence of their adorable baby at the table had something to do with it. The restaurant was casual but with a great mood, the food was served in platters to share and the wine never stopped pouring.

One of the dishes that surprised me during the meal was a piece of grilled bread topped with avocado, pistachios, toasted pistachio oil, and sea salt. It was inventive, and yet so simple. And so good!

This past weekend I decided to recreate the dish in my own kitchen but with a few little changes.

Avocado, pistachio & arugula sandwich

Ingredients

Kaiser roll
arugula
oil
salt & pepper
avocado
pistachios, chopped


Directions
1. Cut Kaiser roll in half and toast.
2. Dress arugula with olive oil, salt & pepper.


3. In a bowl, mash avocado. Season with salt & pepper.


4. Spread the mashed avocado on one half of the Kaiser roll, top with arugula and chopped pistachios.





5. Top it with the second half of the Kaiser roll.


Please do me a favor and try this sandwich! I know it has a lot of green in it, but it's so good! The avocado is buttery and soft, the arugula is slightly bitter and the pistachios are bright and crunchy! In the summer, this would go so well with a thick slice of a ripe tomato.


What's your favorite way to eat an avocado?

PS I'm off to Puerto Rico on Thursday, so please don't be mad if I don't reply to your comments ;) I'll be back next week and will be posting a few recipes in the meantime for Moroccan Chicken and Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili.

toodles!