How To Make Ricotta At Home: Naan & Ricotta

Flatbread with ricotta, tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, and cilantro on a board

This weekend I decided to bake a lemon cake with chocolate frosting and had about 3 cups of milk left. I stopped drinking coffee, and even when I did, I used half & half. I rarely drink milk, and wasn't inclined to drink whole milk the recipe called for. What to do....?

Ricotta! That's what I should make with the milk, I decided. And so I did. And then I spread it on leftover toasted naan and added cucumbers, tomatoes, white onion, salt, olive oil, cilantro and sambar.

Homemade Ricotta

Approximate Ingredients for about 2 portions

3 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon salt

juice of 1/2 lemon


1. Heat the milk with salt to 185 degrees.

2. Pour in lemon juice and gently stir for 15 seconds.

3. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes, then carefully strain through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth.

4. Tie the cheesecloth and hang it on a spoon to drain some of the liquid.

Naan & Ricotta Flatbread

1. Spread homemade ricotta on toasted naan

2. Add diced cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions

3. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, sambar powder, and cilantro.


Staycation in DC: Dupont Circle

Back at the end of March I treated myself to a staycation in Dupont Circle for my birthday. Here are some of the highlights! 


Royal Sonesta in Dupont Circle was a short Uber ride from Arlington and less than ten minutes walking distance from the Dupont Metro, if you choose to use public transportation. The hotel took all the needed measures to make me feel safe and comfortable. Mention it’s your birthday, and you may even get an upgrade. Plus, with the occupation rates still relatively low, you may be able to check in early as well as ask for a later check out. Surrounded by a variety of restaurants (everything from Chiko to Bagels Etc), you’ll not miss the fact that the hotel restaurant is closed.

Upgraded hotel room with king sized bed, wall art, big window



Freshfarm Market is open on Sundays next to the Dupont Metro station from 8:30AM to 1:30PM: a perfect place to grab coffee, treat yourself to fresh flowers for your room, and pick up seasonal produce. When I visited in late March, there was a line to get into the market, but it moved quickly. Check for masks requirements.

Mini flower arrangement


Kramers: stroll through the bookstore and buy a book to read during your brunch outside. I highly recommend smoked pork hash.

Brunch with coffee, avocado toast, potatoes, toast, eggs

Rock Creek Park: no need for heavy duty hiking boots. You’ll feel like you are hours away from the city! Get your steps in while listening to the birds and the stream, taking photos of flowers, and getting your Vitamin D. (And yes, I'm wearing my leather Feather earrings while hiking!)

Woman in sunglasses and leather earrings


Embassy Row: test your knowledge of country flags while admiring diverse architecture of the embassies.


Phillips Collection: make sure to get your timed ticket in advance and experience the Rothko Room. (Alas I did not get tickets in time and could not go.)


In Room Yoga: start or end your day with a yoga practice—I recommend Yoga With Adriene. If you did not remember to bring a yoga mat from home, a large towel will do.



Anju: Korean food has been one of my favorite cuisines for quite some time, and my birthday dinner at Anju did not disappoint. Start your meal with pork and kimchi mandu, move onto battered rockfish, and end on a sweet note with yuzu and pomegranate sorbet. Alas, it looks like the doughnuts I had in March are no longer on the menu.

Korean food in DC at Anju


What To Do With Cabbage: Cabbage & Scallions Pie

Cabbage and scallion pie

If you happen to have half a cabbage sitting in your fridge, Cabbage & Scallions Pie is a quick and easy dish you can bake for lunch or dinner with plenty of leftovers.

My mom mentioned making a cabbage pie a few days ago, and I had no idea what that meant. Turns out, it's a recipe she's made multiple times that even my dad likes: my dad is a bit of a particular eater ;)

The original recipe comes from a Russian website called tak prosto, which translates into so easy. I could not find the link to the recipe, but my mom sent me a photo of the ingredients (in Russian) and over the phone gave me the directions.

The recipe uses both sour cream and mayonnaise in the batter, so it's definitely not low fat. I did not have sour cream and instead used strained plain yogurt. I also changed the proportions slightly.

The recipe calls for 500 grams of cabbage, but worked just fine with 360 grams that I had.

Cabbage & Scallion Pie

Cabbage & Scallions Pie
Serves 4-6

olive oil
parchment paper
500 grams thinly sliced cabbage
2 teaspoons salt, divided
5 scallions, chopped (you can use any herbs you like or a combination)
3 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons sour cream
4 tablespoons mayonnaise 
6 tablespoons flour
black pepper
sesame seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Line the bottom of a pie dish with parchment paper brushed with olive oil on both sides.
3. In a medium bowl, massage the sliced cabbage with 1 teaspoon of salt. Add most of the scallions, leaving some for garnish, and put into the pie dish.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, add the baking powder, and whisk until you end up with smooth mixture.
5. Add the remaining teaspoon of salt, sour cream, mayonnaise, flour, and black pepper. Whisk until all the ingredients are incorporated.
6. Pour the batter over the cabbage and scallions, but do not mix the two. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
7. Bake the pie for 40 to 50 minutes, rotating the pie dish half way through.
8. Serve topped with scallions.

I'm happy with the results, and my mom is happy that I listened to her: a winning combination. The sesame seeds add a bit of texture, but you can easily leave them out and add shredded cheese instead!

The texture of the dish reminds me of quiche or frittata, and just like those dishes, it's great for leftovers! Serve hot or at room temperature. 


Watermelon, Mozzarella, and Sumac Salad

Watermelon, Mozzarella, and Sumac Salad

Watermelon, Mozzarella, and Sumac Salad is refreshing, flavorful, and holds a few surprises.

Normally, you'll see watermelon salad with feta and mint, but why not mix it up? Here, I used cubed fresh mozzarella, but you can go with burrata or halloumi! I'm not a big mint fan and used windowsill grown basil instead. The two other unexpected flavors were chili oil (if you like the heat!) and the lemony flavor from sumac.

Watermelon, Mozzarella, and Sumac Salad
watermelon, cubed
fresh mozzarella, cubed
fresh basil, torn
red onion, thinly sliced
chili olive oil

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Serve.


Caesar(ish) Salad With Air Fryer Chickpeas

Salad with croutons, cheese, avocado, and crispy chickpeas

In the last few weeks, it seems that everywhere I look, I see Caesar Salad (mainly talking about my twin Anna and my friend Emily). A few days ago I decided to create my own version, but add air fryer chickpeas (because my brother sent me an air fryer lid for my pressure cooker for my birthday) and a few other ingredients. I also used ricotta salata instead of Parmesan.

Caesar(ish) Salad With Air Fryer Chickpeas

Boston lettuce, torn into pieces


avocado, sliced

ricotta salata thinly sliced using a vegetable peeler

Caesar dressing (from a bottle)

air fryer chickpeas (drain and pat chickpeas with a paper towel to remove any moisture, then spray with olive oil and cook in your air fryer at 400 degrees for about 10 to 12 minutes shaking the basket occasionally. season with salt)

This is one of my fat ass salads and was quite satisfying! I'm sure you can figure out how to assemble it yourself ;)


Olive Oil Citrus Cake With Candied Tangerine Peel

Olive oil citrus cake topped with crystallized tangerine zest, blueberries, and powdered sugar

Back in the summer I tested a recipe for Olive Oil (Citrus) Cake for Polina Chesnakova's upcoming cookbook Piece of Cake and loved it so much, I made it again this past weekend but with a few changes.  

Instead of making the cake in a round pan as the recipe called for, I divided the batter into two loaf pans and baked the rectangular cakes for about 10 minutes shorter. I also topped each cake with candied tangerine peel. This was my first time making candied citrus peel, and I followed Domenica Marchetti's recipe but cut the time for each step by half because I used an oxo zester to make ribbons of tangerine skin which were quite a bit thinner than the orange peel Domenica used in her recipe. 

Scattered with fresh blueberries and heavily dusted with powdered sugar, this was such an easy to make but satisfying dessert to share with a few friends. The ingredients included buttermilk, olive oil (of course), citrus zest, and eggs, just to name a few. You'll not need any special equipment nor hours to put this cake together.

I guess you'll just have to wait for the book to come out!


Indo Thai Curry With Broccoli And Paneer

Bowl of curry with broccoli, carrots, and paneer

It's a rainy Sunday morning here in Arlington, VA, and I thought I'd share a recipe with you I made yesterday. When I say a recipe, it's mostly my recollection of the ingredients and the steps I took to make this Indo Thai Curry With Broccoli And Paneer.

It all started with a bunch of produce I had and a block of paneer I bought weeks earlier. I wanted something that would be of comfort, not too long to make, and do well as leftovers.

The Indo part of the recipe, as an Indian, comes from mustard seeds, cumin seeds, paneer, and cilantro. The Thai part is lime leaves, coconut milk, Thai red curry paste, and fish sauce. Of course all these ingredients are widely used in a multitude of cuisines.

Indo Thai Curry With Broccoli And Paneer


olive oil

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger

1 head broccoli, cut into bite size pieces

2 carrots, peeled, sliced on diagonal into 1/4" pieces

14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained and pureed (I drank the liquid)

14.5 ounce can coconut milk

1-2 tablespoons red Thai curry paste

lime leaves (mine were old, so I used a bunch of them)

1 block paneer, cut into cubes

fish sauce to taste

salt to taste

1-2 cups defrosted peas

To serve: Basmatti rice, lime wedges, chopped roasted cashews, chopped cilantro


1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add cumin and mustard seeds and saute for a few minutes. Add ginger, broccoli, and carrots, and saute for about 5 minutes.

2. Add pureed tomatoes and coconut milk, red Thai curry paste, and lime leaves. Mix to combine.

3. Nestle in cubed paneer, a few dashes of fish sauce and a pinch of salt. Simmer covered for 10 minutes.

4. Taste. Adjust for seasoning. Simmer a bit longer if your vegetables aren't tender enough for your liking.

5. Add defrosted peas and simmer until they are warmed through.

6. Serve the curry on top of Basmatti rice with a wedge of lime and topped with cashews and cilantro.

You can go to town when it comes to variations: use whichever vegetables you have on hand, tofu instead of paneer, green curry instead of red, zoodles instead of rice.

My favorite part of this dish is the flavorful sauce! 


Yogurt With Frozen Cherries, Halva & Honey Roasted Pepper Cashews

Yogurt With Frozen Cherries, Halva & Honey Roasted Pepper Cashews

Yogurt With Frozen Cherries, Halva & Honey Roasted Pepper Cashews is such a simple but elegant dessert or breakfast or a late afternoon snack. I really don't care when you decide to eat it, just do me a favor and make it!

It all started with my sister Anna making Lily Diamond's maple black pepper almonds. Well, I did not have almonds or maple syrup, but I had a large Costco container of cashews my parents sent me. I also had frozen cherries I bought on my trip to Costco with my friend Jazmin, strained yogurt I made from putting regular yogurt into a fine mesh, and seeded halva Hebel & Co sent me as a sample. 

To make the Honey Roasted Pepper Cashews

1) on a medium heat in a non stick skillet combine about a cup of cashews with quarter cup of honey, a few pinches of black pepper and red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt

2) heat the ingredients on medium heat for about 4 minutes without burning them until the nuts are well toasted and golden brown in color

3) immediately spoon the mixture onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and separate the clusters  

4) season the nuts with extra salt

Yogurt With Frozen Cherries, Halva & Honey Roasted Pepper Cashews 

1) spoon yogurt onto a plate

2) top with crumbled halva

3) top with chopped frozen cherries

4) add honey roasted pepper cashews

Honey Roasted Pepper Cashews


Mango & Blueberries Napoleon

Stacked puffed pastry with buttercream, mango, and blueberries

Last week was my friend Sindy's birthday and I made her Mango & Blueberries Napoleon cake. One for her, one for her boyfriend, and one for me (because I had to try it before gifting the cakes to Sindy).

Even though these Napoleons look gorgeous and fancy, they were quite simple to make. The hardest part, in fact, was the buttercream recipe. Find the recipe that's not too complicated, and you'll be all set. Then tell me about it ;)

I baked the store bought puffed pastry cut into pieces and then cut each piece lengthwise after it cooled. Then, I layered each piece with buttercream, diced mango, and fresh blueberries, finishing the top layer with a pretty mango rose and a dusting of confectionery sugar. All done!

Napoleon with mango and blueberries plated and dusted with sugar


Green Curry With Sweet Potato, Peppers, And Peas

curry, coconut milk, sweet potato, vegan, vegetarian, plant based, pepper, soup, meatless monday, peas

If you have a few roasted sweet potatoes, or regular potatoes for that matter, you can have Green Curry With Sweet Potato, Peppers, And Peas in about 20 minutes!

Green Curry With Sweet Potato, Peppers, And Peas

Serves 2-3 depending on how hungry you are and whether you are eating this curry with rice


2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

2 yellow peppers, thinly sliced (of course you can use any color you like)

2-3 tablespoons green curry paste

1 can (about 14 ounces) coconut milk

1/2 to 1 cups of water

1 large or 2 medium roasted sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 cup defrosted peas

salt to taste

1 lime, quartered

nuts, chopped (I would prefer cashews or almonds, but only had Brasil nuts)

cilantro, chopped


1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add onions and peppers and saute on medium heat for about 7 to 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened and browned slightly.

2. Add the curry paste and saute for a few minutes.

3. Add the coconut milk and enough water to thin it out to your desired consistency.

4. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Add sweet potatoes and peas and mix to combine.

5. Simmer the curry covered for about 10 minutes. Taste for salt.

6. Serve the curry in a bowl with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, chopped nuts, and cilantro.

Options: you can serve this curry on top of rice and or with crispy tofu or a protein of your choice.