5/30/13

See You Later, Alligator


No, I'm not quitting Mango & Tomato :) I'm just going on a trip to Seattle to visit family and friends for a week! But don't you worry, I'll have new posts scheduled, so come back and check them out!

Also, I'm thinking of increasing the size of my vertical photos so that they take up the entire width of the blog (like the one above). Thoughts???

Two Tone Popsicles & New Oxo Tools


Earlier this month I received a fun gift from OXO company: a bunch of different tools to make fruit prep easier. Since I already have and LOVE their cherry pitter, I gave my old one to my friend Cindy and am keeping the pretty red one.

I decided to try out the strawberry huller, mango splitter and the smaller of the fruit scoops to make popsicles!!!

These are not just your regular popsicles, they are TWO TONE :)


Here's my opinion of the tools: they work best when they are the right size for the fruit. You need to match them up pretty well, or otherwise the job might be slightly difficult. My favorite of these three was the strawberry huller!

 


And now for the Two Tone Popsicles!

There really isn't a recipe to this. I basically pureed each type of fruit separately with just a bit of water. You can also add a sweetener of your choice, but I thought my fruit had enough natural sugar.

I then filled my popsicle molds a third way up with one type of the fruit puree and set it in the freezer for 5 minutes.

I then filled the molds with a different type of fruit puree, put the top on, and set in the freezer until the popsicles were all done.

Easy enough, right?



These make a great summer treat and a healthy dessert. You can go crazy coming up with different fruit combinations. And I just LOVE the colors!!!



Disclaimer: OXO sent the tools to me free of charge. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

5/28/13

Tvorog & Sirniki (Russian Cottage Cheese): Russian Recipes Revisited


It's time for another Russian Recipes Revisited post. When thinking about what recipe to make for this month, I decided to make something that reminds me of my maternal grandmother. She would have turned 93 on May 25th. She loved to cook, plants, watching ballroom dancing, and us. She loved her family.

One of the dishes she made often was cottage cheese. But Russian cottage cheese, tvorog, is nothing like the American version. There are no curds or slightly slimy texture. Instead, it resembles a dry version of ricotta.

I called my mom to ask for a recipe and went into my kitchen to make it.

Tvorog (Russian Cottage Cheese)
Makes ~ 3.5 cups

Ingredients
1 gallon 2% milk
2 cups buttermilk

Directions
1. In a large pot, bring the milk to room temperature by heating it slowly. Turn off the heat. Add buttermilk.
2. Leave the mixture on your kitchen counter for 1-2 days until it becomes the consistency of yogurt.
3. Slowly heat the mixture on medium-low heat until it separates: you will see clear liquid and white cloudy puffy "things." That's your tvorog!
4. Allow the mixture to cool and then put it through a double layer of cheesecloth. Tie it up and let it drip in the sink for a few hours. {Or you can put the bundle of tvorogi in between two plates with something heavy on top to get rid off the liquid: similar to dealing with tofu.}

Easy, right?

Well, the first time I made this recipe, it failed. Miserably. And so this Russian Recipes Revisited post almost did not happen at all. But then I decided to try again after getting a few comments from my friends and instagram. I think the key was NOT to buy ultra pasteurized milk or buttermilk. So do NOT go to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's or similar stores. Buy the regular kind. And then make this.

Second time was success.



This is how tvorog looks once it's done and drained. Isn't it pretty? I love the little design the cheesecloth makes.


Now that you've made tvorog, how to use it? Well, you can spread it on bread, mix it into pasta, add it to an omelet, or eat it with berries. Or you could make sirniki. Sirniki are patties made from tvorog. I like them sweetened with sugar and raisins.

Sirniki
Makes 4

Ingredients
1.5 cups tvorog
1 egg
1/3 cup golden raisins
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon sugar
oil for sauteing
sugar
sour cream
jarred cherries or fresh fruit {optional}


Directions

1. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl. The texture will resemble that of uncooked matzo balls.
2. Make 4 patties.
3. In a large skillet heat the oil and saute sirniki for 3 minutes on each side.
4. Serve with a sprinkle of sugar, a dollop of sour cream and jarred cherries.


How pretty are these??? They totally made me think of home.



I hope you make this recipe and it's successful for you on the first try!!! My grandmother would have been proud of me.

5/24/13

Cooking with ScratchDC: Chicken Tikka Masala

On Monday I got a chance to try out ScratchDC (for free!!!). They delivered a box full of ingredients to make Chicken Tikka Masala to my work and asked me to give it a whirl in my kitchen.

Of course they knew I wasn't going to follow directions to a t. But let me back up a bit...


ScratcDC is a local business that comes up with recipes, does all the prep and delivers it to you with directions. The ingredients are mostly organic and locally sourced; the containers are compostable, and the menu changes daily Monday through Thursday.

And they have the most hysterical video telling you what and how they do things ;)


Back to the chicken tikka masala. I skipped the rice. I made the sauce according to the directions, but then pureed it before adding the peas. As for the chicken, instead of broiling it, I simply cut it into cubes and browned it on the stove in a cast iron skillet.

The chicken was tender and came already pre-marinated. If you are one of those people who is not good with a knife, TAKE MY KNIFE SKILLS PRIVATE CLASS!!! Or order from ScratchDC because everything comes nicely chopped and measured. All you have to do is follow directions, which even tell you what kind of equipment you need.

I served the chicken tikka masala with a big salad that had tomatoes, corn, avocado and red peppers.

It was delicious!


And the nice people of ScratchDC even included a few cookies for me to bake from scratch :)


Have you tried ScratchDC or similar services? What do you think?

If you want to try ScratchDC, use mangotomato code to get 15% off!!!

Happy LONG weekend!

Disclosure: ScratchDC delivered this meal box free of charge for me. I was not paid for this blog post. All opinions are my own.

5/22/13

Vegan Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Avocado, Arugula & Marcona Almonds


This Vegan Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Avocado, Arugula & Marcona Almonds came about as many of my other creations. I had random ingredients in my pantry and refrigerator and needed to make something out of them without going to the grocery store.

As the title indicates, the recipe is vegan. It's also pretty darn healthy and filling. And you can eat it hot, at room temperature or cold.





Vegan Quinoa Salad with Asparagus, Avocado, Arugula & Marcona Almonds
Ingredients

cooked quinoa
chiffonade of basil
arugula
pan seared skinny asparagus
Marcona almonds
sliced avocado
olive oil
lemon juice
salt & pepper


Directions
1. Combined quinoa with basil and arugula and place in an individual bowl.
2. Top with asparagus, Marcona almonds and sliced avocado.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and a bit of lemon juice and season with salt & pepper.
4. Serve.


Of course you can also mix all of the ingredients together, but that would not be as pretty.

Have you been cooking with quinoa? What do you usually make?

5/19/13

Fire Roasted Tomato Soup Recipe from Muir Glen



A few weeks ago I received a super sweet gift from Muir Glen: canned tomatoes, a pretty towel, wood tongues and a spoon, an apron and little packets of olive oil. ♥♥♥

Included in this gift was a recipe for Fire Roasted Tomato Soup. So I made it. And it was awesome.


Fire Roasted Tomato Soup from Muir Glen

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
 
1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 cans (14.5 oz each) Muir Glen® organic fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can can (14 oz) reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, cilantro leaves or Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 cup whipping cream


Directions
  1. In 3-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until onion is crisp-tender.

  2. Stir in tomatoes, broth, 1 tablespoon of the basil, the sugar and pepper flakes. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat; pour mixture into large heatproof bowl; cool slightly, about 15 minutes.

  3. In blender, place half of the mixture. Cover; blend until pureed. Return to saucepan. Repeat with remaining mixture. Heat over medium heat until hot. Remove from heat. Stir in cream and remaining 1 tablespoon basil. {I just used a stick blender, and it worked perfectly}

The soup was incredibly easy to make, creamy, flavorful and reheated well the next day for lunch.


Of course tomato soup goes really well with grilled cheese sandwich, but I just toasted jalapeno cheese bread :)


Do you make hot soups in Spring and Summer? If yes, what kind of soups do you make?

5/17/13

Eating out with Instagram: #Philadelphia4ADay. Where to Eat Brunch & Dinner in Philadelphia

I love traveling. If I'm in the same place for too long, I get antsy. Although I just got back from a trip to San Francisco and Alameda, and am going to Seattle in June, I have no other travel plans on my calendar. Oy.

That's why I was so happy when my friend Pankti suggested a day trip to Philadelphia. I've been to Philadelphia three times already: once on a solo trip, once on a trip with my twin {Philadelphia can also be a City of Sisterly Love :)}, and once for a flower show.

Our friend Samantha also joined us for a day of eating and walking around the city. It was really nice not to have any specific plans and just enjoy each other's company and Philadelphia.

For brunch, we went to Garces Trading Co (thank you, K for the recommendation!!). Garces has a gorgeous open space, big windows, communal tables and a fun $28 brunch special menu. I started with a mimosa, and had a house mozzarella as my appetizer. It was creamy and just slightly salty. The olive oil drizzled over the mozzarella was so delicious, I bought a bottle of it to take home with me.

For my main course I had Steak & Eggs: it was a flavorful and filling dish. Somehow I managed to eat the whole thing :) The steak was cooked as I asked for it: medium rare, and was tender and a bit bloody. The poached eggs were perfect.

Unfortunately there was no room for dessert.




And just so that you know, I took some "people photos" and not just food photos. Below is Pankti, Samantha and I by the gorgeous Magic Garden.


And this is me kissing a frog. I'm still waiting for it to turn into my Prince!


After brunch we did quite a bit of walking around. Philadelphia really lends itself for that and provides fun things to look at. Loved these murals.



And of course I'm still obsessed with red doors:


For a quick snack we stopped by at Fork. Check out their website for fun interior shots. I had hibiscus iced tea (yes, still obsessed with hibiscus flavor) and a grapefruit pastry.


And then it was time for dinner. I was disappointed we could not get reservations at Zahav, so we just decided to walk around and see what looked good. By that point we were a bit tired and it was raining and a few of the restaurants we went to have more than an hour wait. No good.

And then, we discovered a lovely neighborhood wine bar called Tria.


The restaurant was somewhat dark, so no photos other than a dessert, but I LOVED the Housemade Lamb Sausage served with white beans, piuillo pepper and min-feta sauce. I also ordered Warm Poached Black Mission Figs with gorgonzola and prosciutto.

For dessert I had Lemon Panna Cotta with blood orange sauce. Divine.


This was such a fun day trip!

5/15/13

Lemony French Lentils with Shitake Mushrooms & Pan Seared Salmon


This Lemony French Lentils with Shitake Mushrooms & Pan Seared Salmon recipe is inspired by a dish I had at Pappo while visiting friends in Alameda, CA.

I guess this is more of a how to put different things together post than a true recipe, but I have faith in your cooking abilities!

The French lentils are not only beautiful, but they retain their shape after being cooked unlike other lentils. Of course you know that salmon is good for you, and so is garlic. With a bit of earthy flavor from the shitake mushrooms and some brightness from the lemon, this dish really has a lot to offer.

Lemony French Lentils with Shitake Mushrooms & Pan Seared Salmon

Ingredients
olive oil
sliced shitake mushrooms
sliced garlic cloves
salt & pepper
cooked French lentils
lemon juice
salmon fillet
cilantro leaves


Directions
1. In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Add mushrooms and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Saute until the mushrooms are slightly crispy.
2. Add cooked French lentils and lemon juice to taste.
3. Meanwhile, pan sear salmon on both sides in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
4. Serve the salmon on a bed of mushrooms and French lentils and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and a bit more of lemon juice.


Easy, right?


Have you tried to recreate a dish you liked in a restaurant in your own kitchen? Were you successful?