4/28/13

Avocado, Pea & Watercress Puree with Spicy Shrimp. Plus, an Avocado Giveaway for Mother's Day!


Last year, my friend Rachael, aka La Fuji Mama, sent me a box of six avocados from California Avocados Direct.

I loved those avocados! They arrived completely unripe and bright green and turned ripe and black while sitting on my kitchen counter. Of course I ate some of them in salads and on sandwiches, but from the rest I made an avocado soup.

This year, I got lucky again ;) Mimi Holtz  whose son Ben started CaliforniaAvocadosDirect.com, sent me six of their avocados and also generously offered to give away one box of the avocados to one of you!!! Make sure to read this entire post to find out how you can win your own California Avocados!

This time around I decided to make another simple recipe that makes avocados shine. I combined the creamy avocados with slightly bitter watercress and sweet peas and topped that concoction with spicy shrimp.

Avocado, Pea & Watercress Puree with Spicy Shrimp. Plus, an Avocado Giveaway for Mother's Day!

Ingredients for 2

for the avocado, pea & watercress puree
1 avocado, cut into half, pit removed & flesh scooped out
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1 cup watercress {don't use the stems}
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt to taste
drizzle of olive oil 


for the spicy shrimp
10 large shrimp {I used the ones with tails attached}
salt & red pepper flakes to taste
2 teaspoons olive oil
a squeeze of lemon juice


Directions

1. In a food processor combine all the ingredients for the avocado, pea and watercress puree till smooth.


2. In a large skillet heat the oil and then cook shrimp seasoned with salt and red pepper flakes for 2-3 minutes on each side. Squirt the shrimp with lemon juice.

3. Serve the shrimp on top of the avocado, pea and watercress puree.



I loved the combination of green and pink. This dish is perfect if you are trying to cut down your carbs but still want something satisfying.


You can also use the components of this recipe to make little appetizers by spreading the puree on a cracker and topping it with the shrimp.


And now here's how YOU can win your own 6 avocados from CaliforniaAvocadosDirect.com.

1) You must sign up for CaliforniaAvocadosDirect newsletter. Sign up and then leave a comment below letting me know you did so.

For additional chances to win, do one of the following and leave a comment for each:

1) Like MangoTomato on FB 
2) Like California Avocados Direct on FB
3) Tweet about this giveaway with my @MangoTomato and a link to this post
4) Follow @MangoTomato
5) Follow @Avocados_Direct

A few rules:

1) You must have a US address
2) You must have your own food blog {I will disregard all of the professional contest commentators}

I will announce the winner using a random number generator on Monday May 6th at 10 am.

Disclaimer: I received six California Avocados Direct, but not monetary compensation for this recipe and post. All opinions are my own. California Avocados Direct is sponsoring this giveaway.

4/25/13

Fancy Avocado & Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches


I'm not one of those people who think that if you live by yourself it's not worth your time to make special meals. I call that BS! Of course not each meal I prepare for myself is a five star dish...far from it. But from time to time, I love making fun and pretty and girly dishes. This Fancy Avocado & Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches is just one of those ideas. Make this for a weekend breakfast or have it at your next tea party!

Fancy Avocado & Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches
Ingredients

4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 avocado
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
salt & pepper 
cucumber slices
radish slices
smoked salmon
rosemary savory crisps (or use whichever crackers you love)

Directions

1. In a food processor puree cream cheese, avocado and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.



2. Make mini sandwiches by spreading the avocado cilantro cream cheese on crackers and topping with cucumber and radish slices and smoked salmon.
3. Eat immediately.



You can also make little stacks! Aren't these cute?


And look who thought this was a cute idea!!!! JAMIE OLIVER!


What fun dishes do you make for yourself?

And the winner is MICHELLE!!!!

4/23/13

Cheesy Peas with Grilled Sausage: Russian Recipes Revisited



For this Russian Recipes Revisited post you get just one photograph. Sorry about that...but I'll also tell you a story...so that should make up for that.

When I was a little girl growing up in Russia, there were certain foods I loved. I've already told you about some of them, but here's another: hot dogs with peas. The hot dogs were simply boiled and served sans buns on a plate. The peas were from a can and mixed with mayonnaise.

How many of you are gagging right now?

That's fine. You don't have to like the same food I like. But for me, this combination brings back so many warm childhood memories. In fact, when my twin sister and I were 9 years old and our brother was born, I remember having hot dogs and peas with mayonnaise for dinner that night because our bachelor uncle babysat us while our dad was at the hospital with our mom and brother.

Even now, two decades after moving to the US, I love having a "naked" hot dog either boiled or sauteed with a few sides. By the way, when I was little, my parents used to make an x cut on each end of a hot dog before sauteing it, making the ends curl up: try this with your kids!

A few weekends ago I decided to make a slightly grown up version of my childhood favorite. The recipe is below.

Cheesy Peas with Grilled Sausage
Serves 1

Ingredients
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1 cup defrosted peas (if you have fresh ones, use them!)
2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese
1-2 prepared sausages (I used chicken with peppers and garlic variety)

Directions
1. In a small skillet heat the olive oil. Add the shallots and saute for 3-5 minutes till softened.
2. Add defrosted peas and heat through.
3. Turn the heat off and add Romano cheese to the peas, allowing the cheese to melt.
4. Meanwhile, diagonally slice your sausages and grill on both sides.
5. Serve grilled sausage slices on top of cheesy peas. 

Do you have childhood favorite meals that sound weird to your friends? 

4/19/13

Mango & Sour Cherry Oatmeal Muffins


Whether you want a delicious breakfast, an addition to your brunch menu or an afternoon snack, you are going to love these Mango & Sour Cherry Oatmeal Muffins.

Last week I received a box of mangoes courtesy of Mango.org, and after eating most of the mangoes as is, I saved three champagne mangoes to make muffins.

If you can't find champagne mangoes, use regular ones. If you don't have frozen or fresh sour cherries, use any other berry you like.

Mango & Sour Cherry Oatmeal Muffins

(Recipe adapted from Butler's Orchards)


Ingredients for 12 muffins

1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups oatmeal, quick or regular
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
zest of one one orange
1 teaspoon vanilla (did you know you can make your own vanilla extract at home?)
2 champagne mangoes, peeled, chopped
1 cup frozen sour cherries

topping
1/4 cup oatmeal
3 tablespoons sugar


Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line muffin tins with paper cups.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. In a separate bowl mix together milk, egg, oil, orange zest and vanilla.
4. Incorporate wet ingredients into the dry ones, but be careful not to over mix.
5. Carefully blend in mangoes and sour cherries.
6. Divide the mixture amongst 12 muffin tins.


7. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup oatmeal with 3 tablespoons of sugar and sprinkle on each muffin.


8. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.


These are great: just sweet enough to satisfy your cravings, but filled with fruit and oatmeal to feel you good about eating them.



If you can't eat all of these muffins at once, they freeze amazingly well!


What do you like to add into your muffins?

4/16/13

Chocolate Ice Cream with Pomegranate Molasses, Dark Chocolate and Chocolate Covered Pomegranate Candy


I have a totally obsessive personality. I get obsessed with TV shows, orchids, men (to a certain degree), technology (that is once I decide to actually start using it: such as instagram), my collection of nail polish and jewelry, and listening to Latin music.

I'm also obsessed with seeing my blog's statistics. I love seeing how people find my blog, where my blog gets mentioned, etc. That's exactly what I was doing last week when I saw that someone came to my blog because of a comment I left on Cherry Tea Cakes' blog post about Chocolate Pomegranate Ice Cream.

This was my comment from over 2 years ago:



Olga @ MangoTomato

March 16, 2011 at 1:13 PM
oh if only I had an ice cream maker!! This looks awesome. And I have a bottle of POM pomegranate concentrate in my fridge.
Well, guess who has an ice cream maker now? I've actually had it for over a year and have made several types of ice cream and frozen yogurt flavors in it.

This past weekend I made my own variation of Chocolate Pomegranate Ice Cream by adding two ingredients to the original recipe: dark chocolate and chocolate covered pomegranate candy.

Chocolate Ice Cream with Pomegranate Molasses, Dark Chocolate and Chocolate Covered Pomegranate Candy
Ingredients
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 2/3 cups heavy cream
¼ cup pomegranate molasses
1/3 cup shaved dark chocolate


Directions

1. In a food processor combine sugar and cocoa. Slowly incorporate egg yolks and pomegranate molasses.
2. In a slow stream add the heavy cream. Once the heavy cream is incorporated, turn the food processor on high and run until the mixture thickens.
3. Refrigerate the mixture for at least thirty minutes and then add it to your ice cream machine and follow the directions, adding the shaved dark chocolate and the candy once the mixture becomes more solid. {I realize these are not very technical directions.}
4. Freeze the ice cream.
5. Scoop it out and enjoy.


Doesn't this look sooooo good?


Now that I've shared some of my obsessions with you, tell me what YOU are obsessed with (but keep it clean please!).

4/14/13

Summer Chili: Bean, Potato, Pepper & Sausage Stew Recipe


A few weeks ago I was invited by Lindley from Heather Freeman PR to attend a cooking class at Zaytinya taught by Chef Michael Costa and Aglaia Kremezi, Greek author, photographer and journalist. Before seeing a demonstration for three different recipes, we took a trip to Penn Quarter's Farmers Market where the chef from Zaytinya picked some of the ingredients that ended up in his dishes.

One of my favorite dishes from the class was Athanasia's Bean Stew made with dry local beans, onion, red pepper, lamb sausage, tomatoes, thyme, and a few other ingredients. The dish was easy to make, quite filling, and reminded me of a summer version of chili.

I decided to make my own version of this dish: Summer Chili: Bean, Potato, Pepper & Sausage Stew.


Summer Chili: Bean, Potato, Pepper & Sausage Stew

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 Yukon potatoes, diced
4.5 ounces fully cooked sausage, sliced {I used chicken sausage with peppers and onions}
19 ounce can white kidney beans, drained
15.5 ounce can pink beans, drained
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
red pepper flakes to taste
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro 


Ingredients

1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Add onions, peppers and potatoes and saute for 10 minutes.
2. Add sausage and saute for 3 minutes.
3. Add beans and tomatoes. Season with red pepper flakes and salt & pepper, and simmer covered for 25 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through.
4. Serve garnished with cilantro.


Shout out to my friend Jenny for super pretty Marimekko pot holders: ♥!


You can also add sour cream or chopped avocado to this dish if you want, but it doesn't require it.


Do you make any hot dishes during spring and summer? If so, which ones?

4/9/13

What to do with White Beans? Ina to the Rescue (Ina Garten That Is)


This is for now the last post I write about cooking from Barefoot Contessa's Foolproof. I can't believe I've made FIVE recipes from it already: not surprisingly, all turned out great!

I decided to make Ina's recipe for white beans to go along with the Four Hour Lamb. Ina said to use dry French flageolet beans, but I did not find them at my grocery store and used regular white beans, which had to be soaked overnight.


The recipe is pretty simple: you saute bacon, onions, fennel and carrots in a large pot. Then add garlic. I left out rosemary, but did use bay leaves. I also added a tablespoon of bourbon smoked paprika. A bit of broth and water got added and then in went the beans. My favorite part about the recipe was the fact that there was no celery involved.


My least favorite part about the recipe was that it took over an hour to cook in the oven. I think you can easily use canned beans and reduce the cooking time by half.


Here's the final product:


This recipe makes A LOT, so I ended up freezing more than half of it. Although I'm not a huge fan of fennel, it did not bother me in this recipe because garlic and bacon added enough flavor to mask that of fennel.

I'm putting Foolproof back on my bookshelf for now. I'll be posting a few of my own creations next, so come back ;)

4/5/13

Polenta & Mushrooms From Plenty Cookbook: Dinner Party & Leftovers


Happy almost weekend! The weather is finally turning lovely and hopefully Spring is here for good. I'm crossing all my fingers and toes.

This is a quick post on how to turn food you made for dinner into leftovers for lunch or brunch the next day.

Simply put, PUT AN EGG ON IT ;)

A few months ago I had friends over for a Dinner Cookbook Party where we made dishes from Plenty Cookbook. One of the best ones was a Mushroom & Herb Polenta Dish with a ton of Parmesan and Taleggio cheese in it. You can see the recipe on my friend Cecilia's blog.

We improvised and took out tarragon, because I'm not a fan of this herb, but there was plenty of flavor from thyme and rosemary. Not to mention butter. And truffle oil.

Because the recipe made quite a bit, there were leftovers! The next morning, I reheated the leftovers and topped them with a fried egg and fresh thyme for a late breakfast.


Simple? Yes. Delicious? Yes. Worth making again? For sure!

Have a wonderful weekend!

4/3/13

What to do with a Boneless Leg of Lamb? Ina to the rescue.


A few weekends ago I was invited to attend a super fun event hosted by the American Lamb Board and Craig Rogers of Border Springs Farm. Together with the other bloggers, writers and photographers, I visited four DC restaurants and tried out different lamb dishes they had on their menus. This was such a delicious and boozy afternoon.

At the end of the tour (we visited Union Market, Zaytinya, Ripple and Bourbon Steak), Craig gave each participant a boneless leg of lamb. Because I was going to a friend's house for Passover the following day and asked nicely, Craig also provided a shank (that way I could bring it to my friend Cindy's house to use for the Seder plate).

By the time I got home and went grocery shopping for the week, it was already 7 pm. But I was itching to make the lamb. I turned once again to Barefoot Contessa's Foolproof. Yes, I've been making quite a few recipes from Ina's book.

The recipe for the 4 Hour Lamb is time consuming, but there is very little you actually have to do.

You first season the lamb with salt and pepper and sear it in a large oven safe heavy-bottomed pan. (I used my beloved Le Creuset that I scored at Marshalls).


Once the lamb has been seared on all sides, you take it out and add garlic cloves, bay leaves, white wine and herbs to the pan. Ina called for rosemary and thyme, but I only used thyme because I'm not a fan of rosemary.

Once the mixture has been cooking for a few minutes, add the lamb back into the pan, cover and roast for 4 hours in the 300 degree oven, basting it occasionally.


Easy, right? My condo smelled AMAZING.

At about 11:30 pm the lamb was done and it had very little time to cool before going into the refrigerator. Please don't tell the food police this ;)

The next day, this is what I had:


I'm actually really glad I made this lamb dish the night before: it allowed all the fat to come to the surface and to solidify, making it very easy to remove unnecessary calories!

Ina says to remove the lamb from the pan, strain out the herbs and squeeze the garlic cloves into the pan before heating up the sauce and reducing it. I did just that. I also served the lamb with Ina's white beans. You'll have to come back for that post ;)


This was such an incredibly satisfying dish. I shared the lamb with one of my friends' daughters because she loves it. I also froze a large portion for later.

Do you love lamb? How do you cook it?

4/1/13

Love Chickpeas But Tired of Hummus? Ina Garten Can Help!

Let's play a little game of word association. If I say chickpeas, what's the first thing you think of? I bet a lot of you would say hummus. And yes, chickpeas are awesome for making hummus such as this Roasted Sweet Potato Hummus or this Zesty Spicy Hummus. But chickpeas are great in so many other dishes as well!

Think Roasted Tomatoes, Chickpeas & Feta Salad or Roasted Indian Chickpeas or Butternut Squash Soup with Chorizo and Chickpeas. The possibilities of cooking with chickpeas are endless.

A few weekends ago I made yet another recipe from  Barefoot Contessa's Foolproof for the Cookbook Dinner Party I was having with a few friends. Ina's recipe for Tuscan Mashed Chickpeas is definitely something you should add to your cooking repertoire.


What you do is this:

  1. Add drained chickpeas to a food processor and pulse until the mixture becomes chopped but not pureed. {Note: the recipe calls for adding a bit of chicken broth, but you can add water or vegetable broth if you want to keep this recipe vegetarian.}
  2. Then, in a large skillet heat olive oil and add tomatoes. Once tomatoes have been sauteed, add garlic and let it cook for a little bit.
  3. Then add the chickpeas and allow them to heat through.
  4. Once everything has been warmed through, remove the mixture to a bowl and add grated Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and serve with bread or pita chips.

This is a fabulous warm appetizer to have before a meal, or it can be paired with a salad and soup for lunch.
I'm clearly infatuated with Ina and this cookbook.

What's YOUR favorite way of cooking with chickpeas?