5/30/14

Dinner at Compass Rose in Washington DC

Earlier this week my friend Evi and I got together for our monthly dinner night. Once again Evi let me choose a restaurant ;) I've heard many great things about recently opened Compass Rose and could not wait to check it out.

The concept of Compass Rose is awesome: you get to try dishes from all over the world. But don't worry: this is not one of those restaurants with a menu that has a zillion pages. The menu of Compass Rose is one page long and has great flavors from India, Peru, Brazil, etc.

This time around we chose four dishes and really liked all of them.

Lamb Kefta (Lebanon): ground lamb, olives, garam masala, sumac, zatar, freekeh, lemon tahini. I wanted a tub of the lemon tahini dressing: it went great with the fried potatoes we ordered as a side.
 
Khachapuri (Georgia): cheese filled bread, organic egg, spring butter. OMG!! This is something I could eat daily: carbs, cheese and a runny egg yolk. Incredibly messy and satisfying.

Fried Baked Potato with salsa verde and pecorino: what's not to love about potatoes? These were baked, then cut into thick slices, wholes punched out (like doughnuts!) and then fried and topped with green salsa and cheese. DELICIOUS!
 
Bhel Puri Chaat (India): puff rice, sev, potato, tomato, sunflower sprouts, peanuts, mint & tamarind chutney, lettuce cups. This was such an incredibly flavorful vegetarian dish. Order it as an appetizer to share or as a main dish if you don't want any seafood or meat. Check out my simpler version of this dish here.
 

I can't wait to come back once Compass Rose gets a few desserts on the menu.

So if you love traveling and trying new food but don't have enough vacation days, funds, or your passport is expired, go to Compass Rose and you'll feel like you've visited several countries in just an hour.

Have a good weekend!

5/29/14

Best Panzanella Recipe Ever: Homemade Garlic Crouton & Avocado Panzanella with Grilled Tomatoes


What if Panzanella and Caprese had a baby?

Wait, what?

Are you confused? :)

Panzanella is a great summer salad made with stale bread and typically tomatoes. Caprese is another great summer salad made with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil.

But you know I'm not a really good rule/recipe follower. So, I decided to combine the two salads and change up the way some of the ingredients are prepped.

And that's how I created Homemade Garlic Crouton & Avocado Panzanella with Grilled Tomatoes.

Let's discuss each ingredient!
Bread: I used a baguette, which I sliced in half lengthwise, drizzled with olive oil and then grilled on my grill pan. As soon as each half of the baguette was grilled, I rubbed it with a cut up {just to expose more of the surface} garlic clove and chopped the baguette halves into bite-size pieces.

Tomatoes: for something different, I tossed the cherry tomatoes with a bit of olive oil and grilled them on my grill pan. Of course if you have an outside grill, use that. Or you can roast the tomatoes.

Mozzarella: I used a big ball of fresh mozzarella and cut it into bite-size pieces.

Extras: cubed avocado, torn leaves of Butter lettuce, chiffonade of basil, salt & pepper, drizzle of olive oil.



Aren't the colors beyond vibrant? If you are not a fan of the typically soggy Panzanella salad, you will love the texture of these homemade garlic croutons. The grilled tomatoes will burst in your mouth, while the creamy avocado combined with the olive oil with make a lovely dressing to marry all the other ingredients.

Go ahead and make this salad tonight for dinner or over the weekend for lunch!

5/27/14

My Favorite Summer Salad: Corn, Avocado, Tomato & Radish Salad with Ranch Dressing


Hello! Did you have a good 3 day weekend? Mine was relaxing and lazy and good. The pool opened, so I went swimming twice, I also took a day trip to Baltimore, took a few naps and spent quality time on my couch.

I also made My Favorite Summer Salad: Corn, Avocado, Tomato & Radish Salad with Ranch Dressing.

Before I tell you about the salad, although you can figure out the recipe by the title, I'd like to tell you a crazy thing that happened on Twitter this weekend.

One woman, who I wasn't even following, decided to UNFOLLOW and BLOCK me because I like tongue. As in cow tongue. And she happens to be vegetarian. Can you believe it? I suppose from now on I will only follow people who like mangoes and tomatoes.

Kidding.

Ok, now to the story of this salad.

I've mentioned many times that the types of salads I love are the ones with many ingredients in them. Lettuce, a few slices of tomatoes and a slice of cucumber is not a salad in my book.

This Corn, Avocado, Tomato & Radish Salad with Ranch Dressing has some of my favorite ingredients and is a great play of colors, textures, and flavors.


My Favorite Summer Salad: Corn, Avocado, Tomato & Radish Salad with Ranch Dressing

Corn: use the freshest corn you can find. Cut the kernels off the cob and sauté briefly in olive oil.
Tomatoes: use cherry or grape and cut them in half.
Olives: I used kalamata ones, but you can use whichever kind you like...just make sure to remove the pits.
Avocado: it adds incredibly creaminess and good fat: cube it
Radishes: it surprises me how many people have never tried radishes. I love their crispy texture, the beautiful outside color and the slightly peppery taste. Slice your radishes thin in half moon shapes.
Lettuce: one of my favorite ones is Boston or Butter lettuce.
Basil: chop the basil for the salad right before serving.
Ranch dressing: I used store bought, but you can make it at home.


Doesn't this salad just scream SUMMER!? It does for me.
What's YOUR favorite Summer Salad?

5/23/14

Mango & Tomato Turns 6!

Happy Friday and Happy 3 Day Weekend!

I cannot believe I'm about to write this, but Mango & Tomato turns 6 years old this month. How crazy is this? I cannot believe what started with a tiny little idea has grown into something I can't imagine not having in my life.

Thank YOU for coming over and reading my posts, commenting, making my recipes and following my recommendations for restaurants, travel adventures and cookbooks.

Thank you to all the wonderful people who I've met through blogging and who have become friends!

Thank you to all the companies who I've worked with for the last 6 years!

Thank you for all the wonderful opportunities that have come from this.

I promise to continue to share the recipes I create in my kitchen and anything and everything food related in my life.

I hope you continue to check out my blog! Please let me know if there's anything specific you'd like to see here.

And now I share with you top SIX posts by traffic.




 








Have a wonderful weekend!
xoxo

5/21/14

What To Do With Leftover Brewed Coffee: Frothy Bourbon Spiked Coffee Cocktail


Let's say you have leftover brewed coffee...should you dump it? Put it in the refrigerator and use the next day? Heat it back up? Well, today I give you another option and it's a boozy one! Why not make a Frothy Bourbon Spiked Coffee Cocktail?

This idea came to me last weekend when I was out of milk, but had iced brewed coffee, sweetened condensed milk and a mini bottle of bourbon. Voila.

Frothy Bourbon Spiked Coffee Cocktail
Serves 2-4
Ingredients
2 cups ice
2 cups cold brewed coffee
3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk, or more to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon, or more depending on how boozy you want this concoction to be

Directions
1. Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend away.
2. Pour the cocktails into glasses.

How pretty is the froth??? The longer the cocktail sits, that is if you are trying to photograph it, the more the froth separates from the rest of the cocktail. But I'm almost positive this would not be your issue because you'll drink yours right away!




Since I can't handle too much alcohol, I had a few of these cocktails the following day: all you have to do is add the liquid back to the blender and maybe add another splash of bourbon and a few ice cubes to re-blend it.

Cheers!!!

5/19/14

Vegetarian Mushroom, Rice & Artichoke Hearts Stuffed Peppers


If you love stuffed peppers, you are going to want to make my Vegetarian Mushroom, Rice & Artichoke Hearts Stuffed Peppers.

I absolutely love stuffed peppers: winter or summer, this dish reminds me of a warm hug. How do you like yours? Stuffed with rice and vegetables? Stewed in tomato sauce? Filled with orzo and ground lamb? Topped with sour cream and herbs?

This time around I decided to make a completely vegetarian version of stuffed peppers and simmer them on the stove in tomato sauce. Also, instead of stuffing a whole pepper, I cut them lengthwise into boats: this way they cook faster and are easier to eat.

The surprise ingredient in this recipe is lemon zest. It was a last minute addition I decided to try out and absolutely LOVED it: the lemon zest brightened up the entire dish and played well with the earthy flavor of mushrooms and sour flavor of artichoke hearts.

Vegetarian Mushroom, Rice & Artichoke Hearts Stuffed Peppers
Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped portabella mushrooms
1 small red onion, chopped
salt and pepper
1 cup chopped marinated artichoke hearts
zest of 1 lemon
1-2 pinches red pepper flakes
1 cup slightly undercooked Basmati rice
3 peppers halved lengthwise
4 cups crushed canned tomatoes
1/4 cup shaved Kerrygold Dubliner {thanks for the sample Kerrygold!}

Directions
1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. You want to use a skillet that you'll eventually use to simmer the peppers: make sure all 6 pepper boats will fit into the skillet snuggly. You'll also want to have a lid for that skillet.
2. Once the oil is hot, add mushrooms and onions. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until the vegetables are cooked through.
3. In a bowl combine mushrooms and onions, artichoke hearts, lemon zest, rice and red pepper flakes. Allow the mixture to cool slightly.
4. Add crushed tomatoes to the skillet and bring to a simmer.
5. Meanwhile, stuff the pepper boats with the rice and vegetable mixture. Nestle the boats into the simmering crushed tomatoes, cover, and continue to simmer for about 30 minutes.
6. Take off the cover, add a bit of cheese to each pepper boat, and simmer for a few more minutes with a cover on until the cheese melts.



I was really happy with how these stuffed peppers turned out. Depending on how hungry you are, you'll want to eat 1-2 of these pepper boats. They are also great as leftovers for lunch the next day. Or even 2-3 days later.


If you don't know what you are making for dinner tonight, get yourself to a grocery store and make these stuffed peppers! This is a perfect Meatless Monday dish!

How do you make your stuffed peppers?

5/16/14

Vegan Avocado, Radish & Tomato Crostini


You guys! It's almost weekend time! I can't be more excited to sleep in, hang out with friends, see a movie, and maybe do a few productive things around the condo. But first, I wanted to share with you a super pretty, delicious and simple to make lunch, appetizer or a snack: Vegan Avocado, Radish & Tomato Crostini.

This crostini will not change your life, but it will brighten up your day for sure!


Vegan Avocado, Radish & Tomato Crostini
Ingredients
olive oil
baguette, sliced in half horizontally
avocado
sliced radishes
sliced grape tomatoes
salt

Directions
1. Heat olive oil in a skillet and toast your sliced baguette.
2. Smash avocado directly onto toasted baguette halves and top with radishes and tomato slices.
3. Drizzle with extra olive oil and season with salt.


This is basically an elevated version of one of my favorite healthy treats: avocado toast. You can elevate this idea further by rubbing the toasted baguette with a garlic clove before smashing avocado right on top. You can also add cucumbers, or even CHEESE! Although of course cheese will make this crostini no longer vegan.



Have a fabulous weekend!

5/14/14

Have Leftover Sparkling White Wine? Make Orange & Cherry Wine Spritzer


Remember a while back I wrote a post about what you could do if you had leftover wine? Well, today I share another idea with you: Orange & Cherry Wine Spritzer.

Here's what happened:
1) I bought yet another bottle of New Age {because I ♥ it}
2) I had a few glasses throughout a week, but had a bit of wine left in the bottle
3) I saw my friend Cecilia instagram that she was making mimosas this past Saturday
4) I had a jar of sour cherries from World Market

SO I decided to put all these things together and make a spritzer! That's just how my mind works ;)

Orange & Cherry Wine Spritzer
Ingredients
freshly squeezed orange juice
liquid from jarred sour cherries {You can find it in World Market or Trader Joe's or any Russian store}
sparkling white wine {I used New Age}

Directions
1. Pour orange juice in a glass.
2. Add liquid from jarred sour cherries.
3. Top with sparkling white wine.
4. Cheers!




You can use whichever proportions you want: I tried to make 1:1:1. Clearly if you want the spritzer to be more boozy, you would just add more wine. You can also make the same cocktail with champagne, or make it booze free by using sparkling water. I think this turned out gorgeous and delicious.

5/12/14

Celebrate Hummus Day with Babamus

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sabra Dipping Co, LLC. for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.


Turns out that May 15th is HUMMUS day! I could eat hummus every single day, so I'm happy to share with you a recipe I created one of the Sabra hummus flavors: roasted garlic.

Let me back up a bit. I love all dips: hummus, baba ghanoush, salsa, queso, etc. And although these dips aren't hard to make, sometimes you just need to have a few shortcuts. Two of my favorite dips, hummus and baba ghanoush can be cousins! After all, they both made with tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper. That is why I decided to combine the two to make Babamus!


Babamus
Ingredients
1 medium eggplant
1/4 cup Sabra roasted garlic hummus
1 tablespoon chopped red onion
1 tablespoon lemon juice
drizzle of olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Directions
1. Place an eggplant directly on top of a gas stove and carefully completely blacken it on the flame, turning it from time to time with tongs. If you don't have a gas stove, you can roast or broil the eggplant. Place the blackened eggplant in a bowl, cover, and let it sit for about 20 minutes.
2. Remove the eggplant from the bowl and discard the black skin. Cool the eggplant completely.
3. Place the cooled eggplant in a clean bowl and mash it using two forks. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix to combine.
4. Refrigerate Babamus for at least 30 minutes. Serve with crackers and roasted vegetables.


Do not forget to Like Sabra on Facebook.
Visit Sponsor's Site

5/8/14

Fancy Mushroom & Kerrygold Blarney Castle Gouda Style Melts


Two Wednesdays ago I woke up feeling under the weather. The Elephants (what I not so lovingly call my upstairs neighbors) have kept me up for hours by walking like...well, elephants, and dropping things on the floor and loudly talking. I stayed in bed after my alarm clock went off, tried to fall back asleep, and finally decided to just get up and start my random day of teleworking. Yes, I'm lucky I'm able to do this.

When I heard a knock on my door, I wasn't sure what was happening as I wasn't expecting any visitors. What greeted me outside my door was a surprise box with several cheese samples and a big block of butter from Kerrygold! I might have done a little dance because I was so happy.

After eating one of the samples and sharing another with my friend Cecilia, I decided to make something simple, but somehow simultaneously luxurious. That's how the idea for Fancy Mushroom & Kerrygold Blarney Castle Gouda Style Melts came about.


"Blarney Castle Cheese

Back in the day – way before your father’s day when he walked to school in the winter for eight miles, barefoot, uphill both ways – cows were as good as currency in Ireland. To protect one of the richest herds and most prosperous pastures of the time, Blarney Castle was built. Now almost 600 years later, our Blarney Castle Cheese is produced using the same verdant green rolling hills and sparkling pure streams that meander through these once fiercely protected lands. And of course, it’s made from the milk of grass-fed cows who graze there.

It would be hypocritical of us to produce a gourmet Irish cheese called Blarney Castle without living up to its heritage. So automatically it has to be a 100% natural grass-fed cheese without a speck of artificial flavors or additives. Blarney Castle is a mild and creamy cow’s milk cheese with rich and velvety undertones. It both feels and tastes similar to a young Dutch Gouda cheese and makes a perfect complement to fresh fruit and a glass of crisp wine, like Sauvignon Blanc."


Fancy Mushroom & Kerrygold Blarney Castle Gouda Style Melts
Ingredients
2 teaspoons Kerrygold butter
1 cup sliced fancy mushrooms {you can use shiitake, chanterelles, etc}
1/2 red onion, sliced
salt & pepper
sliced Blarney Castle Smooth Milk Gouda Style Kerrygold Cheese: as much as you want!
2 lightly toasted slices of whole wheat bread
2 teaspoons chopped parsley

Directions
1. Melt the butter in a skillet. Add mushrooms and onion, season with salt and pepper and saute till browned.
2. Top each slice of bread with the mushroom and onion mixture and slices of cheese.
3. Broil this incredible concoction for about 5 minutes making sure you don't burn the cheese! You just want the cheese to melt and get golden brown.
4. Garnish each melt with fresh parsley and eat as soon as you can safely avoid burning your mouth.
 



I ate both slices within ten minutes with a side of chopped tomatoes. This was such a decadent lunch!


Thank you Kerrygold for a sweet surprise!!

Disclosure: I received a few samples of Kerrygold products but was not under any obligation to post about it. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

5/6/14

Eating out with Instagram: Zaytinya in DC


Washington DC area has changed quite a bit in the last twelve years: that's how long I've lived here. Craziness. New restaurants, museums, and stores have opened, while others have closed. Still, there are certain places in DC that remain my favorites. Whenever someone comes to DC and asks for a recommendation of a restaurant to check out, I always recommend Zaytinya. What's not to love about a beautiful white interior with touches of blue, Turkish and Greek tapas, and a central location? In fact, my friend Dana visited from Seattle a few weeks ago and absolutely loved having dinner at Zaytinya with her mom and a friend! I LOVE it when people listen to my recommendations.

This past weekend I was invited to brunch at Zaytinya and brought along my friend Cecilia. We were treated to a variety of dishes, but only our drinks and one of the desserts were from the brunch menu (mimosa for Cecilia, Bloody Mary for me). The rest of the dishes can be found on Zaytinya's regular menu and ordered any time of the day.


I'm not sure when exactly I started liking Bloody Marys. Although I love anything with tomatoes, for the longest time I've stayed away from a mix of tomato juice with whatever boozy component a restaurant chooses to add. But recently I started changing my mind. The Bloody Mary in Zaytinya is made with vodka, house-made mix and harissa water, which added a great level of spiciness.

I've dined at Zaytinya many times over the years, and am always happy to see new dishes added to the menu. Some of my new favorites are below.

Seared halloumi cheese with Medjool dates, orange, pistachios and mint. I loved the combination of the salty cheese with the sweet dates and orange and the crunchy pistachios.
 


Roasted asparagus with bahar-spiced labneh, crushed pine nuts and chives. The asparagus was young, sweet and tender and paired well with the creamy labneh sauce.


 
Crispy Brussels Afelia with garlic yogurt sauce and barberries. Zaytinya pretty much has Brussels sprouts on the menu year round, but the dish got a lighter remake for Spring.


Sea scallops with dill yogurt, sugar snap peas and radish. The scallops were tender and sweet (just like asparagus!) and you know I love anything with dill in it.


For dessert we had one of the must-order dishes: Greek yogurt and apricots (muscat-soaked apricots, vanilla yogurt cream, apricot sorbet and pistachios). I always love this dessert and am happy I did not have to share my parfait with Cecilia because we each got one ;)

We also tried a sweet dish from the brunch menu: Ashta (traditional Lebanese-style French toast with bananas and orange blossom honey). If you love bananas, honey and orange water, this is a dessert for you! I loved the silky interior texture of the French toast and the crispy crust it had: wonderful contrast.


All this great food while listening to live Greek music? Yes, this was a great Saturday afternoon! {Note, the music was for the Greek festival Zaytinya was hosting, so please don't expect it next time you dine there.}


Disclosure: Zaytinya invited me to brunch and picked up the check. Cecilia and I left a tip to our server. All opinions are my own.