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9/18/21

Cooking Inspirations: What I've Been Cooking and Baking

And so it's the weekend again! I thought I'd share with you a few of my latest inspirations for cooking and baking.

First up, Marnely's Vegan Tofu Bolognese: such an easy to follow and satisfying recipe. I had seconds and thirds the first time I made it. Bonus points: Marnely is a friend (and I really hope we meet in real life one day). The leftovers are great on top of white beans.

Vegan Tofu Bolognese with Pasta

Next up, Joan Nathan's challah, but with chopped crystallized ginger on the inside and a combination of black and white sesame seeds and sugar in the raw on the outside. This was by far one of the best challah recipes

I made half the recipe and then divided it into 2: one round, one regular topped with za'atar. I'll definitely be making this recipe again and again.

Thanks Jenna for inspiring me!

The confetti plate is from one of my favorite businesses: Felt and Fat

Round challah for Rosh Hashannah

And finally, Olive Oil, Honey, and Apple Cake from Pickled Plum. I literally googled those terms and found the recipe: easy to follow, gorgeous, and something fun for Rosh Hashana or any fall day. I served mine with vanilla ice cream and powdered sugar.

Apple Cake with Ice Cream

8/22/21

Quick And Easy Borsch Recipe

Vegetarian beet soup in a large pot with bowls

Let's get one thing straight: there's no t in borsch.

Ok, I feel better now :0

Here's a Quick And Easy Borsch Recipe you can whip up in less than 45 minutes (all the while practicing your dicing skills) and eat either hot or cold because it's completely vegan (that is until you add mayonnaise or sour cream).

Quick And Easy Borsch Recipe

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 onion, diced

3 carrots, peeled, diced

2 Russet potatoes, peeled, diced (larger than the other vegetables)

2 medium beets, peeled, diced

salt & pepper to taste

1 tablespoon tomato paste

water

1/2 small cabbage, thinly sliced

toppingsmayonnaise or sour cream, parsley or dill, and toast

Directions

1. In a large soup pot, I used Le Creuset, heat olive oil. Add onions and carrots and saute for 5 minutes.

2. Add potatoes and saute for 3 more minutes.

3. Add beets, salt and pepper, and tomato paste, stir to combine and saute for 5 minutes.

4. Add enough water to cover everything by 1 to 2 inches depending on how thick you'll want your borsch to be. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until potatoes are tender.

5. Add cabbage, bring the mixture back to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

6. Serve with mayonnaise or sour cream, parsley or dill, and toast.

The soup will only get better as it sits in the refrigerator. 

8/8/21

Meatless Monday: Ricotta Toasts With Mango & Honeyed Pistachios

MRicotta Toasts With Mango & Honeyed Pistachios

Ricotta Toasts With Mango & Honeyed Pistachios are perfect for breakfast, dessert, or a snack, and are especially great for Meatless Monday.

I was inspired by an instagram post from Adeena Sussman, but changed a few things (as is pretty typical of me). 

Ricotta Toasts With Mango & Honeyed Pistachios

Serves 1

Ingredients

1/4 cup smoked honey (use 3 tablespoons for pistachios and the rest as a drizzle)

2 tablespoons salted roasted pistachios, chopped

red pepper flakes to taste

2 slices of bread, toasted

1/4-1/3 cup ricotta, drained slightly 

1 mango, peeled, "cheeks" cut off and thinly sliced

Directions

1. In a small pan heat the honey. Add pistachios and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Bring the mixture to a bubble and cook for about 5 minutes. Carefully transfer to parchment paper and allow to cool. Break into pieces.

2. Slather toasts with ricotta, add a layer of sliced mango, top with honeyed pistachios, and drizzle with a bit more honey. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes for extra heat.

SO

VERY 

GOOD

8/2/21

Avocado Toast With Roasted Tomatoes

Avocado Toast With Roasted Tomatoes on a plate and a little flower and iced coffee

If your tomatoes aren't as ripe and sweet as you want them, roast them, and then top your avocado toast with them!

Avocado Toast With Roasted Tomatoes
olive oil
cherry or grape tomatoes
salt
two slices of bread, toasted
1 avocado, smashed

1) Preheat the oven to 425F with a baking sheet inside.
2) Add tomatoes to the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt. Roast for 25 minutes, occasionally shaking the pan.
3) Spread smashed avocado on toasted bread, top with roasted tomatoes, and sprinkle with a bit more salt. 


7/29/21

Mango Tomato Cherry Salsa Recipe

Mango Tomato Cherry Salsa with chips

Mango Tomato Cherry Salsa

1 mango, peeled, diced

2 Roma tomatoes, diced

1 cup cherries, pitted, chopped

1 tablespoon minced jalapeno (I used one I grew on my windowsill!)

salt to taste

1-2 tablespoons lime juice

2-3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

chips to serve

Shout out to my new Felt & Fat bowls I received as a gift from the company after being their super fan!!!

7/25/21

Cherry Oat Bars With Frozen Yogurt And Pistachios

Cherry and oats bar dessert on a plate topped with frozen yogurt and pistachios

Cherry Oat Bars With Frozen Yogurt And Pistachios is a perfect dessert to bring to a last minute get together because one of the lessons my parents taught is to never show up empty handed.

Last week I was invited to a get together with a few neighborhood girls, but had zero desire to go grocery shopping: I had cherries in the freezer and a large bag of oats, and so I searched for cherry and oats recipe. That's how I landed on Copycat Starbucks Michigan Cherry Oat Bars from Sandra of Dash of Sanity (who can't use some sanity!?).

Surprisingly, and luckily, I had all the necessary ingredients other than quick oats. I ended up using regular oats, adding orange zest to the filling and then topping cooled and cut bars with frozen yogurt and chopped roasted and salted pistachios.

The recipe was so easy to follow and left my condo smelling sweet and fragrant. Speaking of sweet, I highly recommend cutting the brown sugar to 2/3 cups from a full cup.

To make the frozen yogurt, I took 2% yogurt, put it into a small container and put it in the freezer. After an hour I fork'ed the yogurt and put it back into the freezer. Repeat a few times.

These were a HUGE success!!! You can easily make these bars with any type of berries or stone fruit or even apples. I bet they'll be stellar with a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips under the filling. 

Please don't use canned filling: fresh one takes just a few minutes to make.

6/28/21

How To Make Creme Brulee In A Pressure Cooker

2 mini creme brulee desserts in Le Creuset with blueberries

A few weekends ago I made my first ever dessert in a pressure cooker and my first ever creme brulee all thanks to a review copy of Lauren Keating's Instant Pot Cookbook For Beginners

I've had my pressure cooker for at least 3 years, but have only used it for savory recipes. The idea of making a dessert in a pressure cooker, especially in the hot summer months, was enticing. I was also curious whether Lauren's simple recipe would be as good as the dessert I occasionally order in restaurants. It was!!!

In fact, the dessert was so great, I'm glad I only made a third of the recipe (enough for 2 portions) and shared one with a friend: otherwise I'd eat it all in just a few days. Since then, I've ordered a professional torch to brulee the sugar directly instead of putting the mini desserts under the broiler.

Lauren's book covers the basics of pressure cooking and provides recipes for each meal of the day, dessert included.

Reprinted with permission.

Cooking creme brulee under pressure ensures it comes out perfectly creamy and evenly cooked every time. Be sure to plan ahead, since this will need to chill for at least 4 hours before serving. 

Creme Brulee

Serves 6

Ingredients

6 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus 4 1/2 teaspoons, for topping

6 large egg yolks

2 cups heavy (whipping) cream

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together 6 tablespoons of sugar and the egg yolks. While whisking constantly, add the cream, vanilla, and salt. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer.

2. Divide and fill six 6-ounce ramekins three-fourths full and then remove any air bubbles with the back of a spoon. Cover each ramekin tightly with aluminum foil.

3. Set the trivet in the inner pot and pour in 1 cup of water. Place 4 ramekins on the trivet and stack the remaining 2 on top.

4. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker. Set the pressure valve to seal and cook for 10 minutes on manual low pressure. When the time is up, allow for 15-minutes natural release of pressure; then quick release any remaining pressure.

5. Carefully transfer the ramekins to a baking sheet and let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

6. Spread 3/4 teaspoon of sugar evenly on top of each cooked creme brulee. Use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar and make a crispy top. Let them sit for 5 minutes before serving. 

6/14/21

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

Directions

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.

5/27/21

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! 


WHERE TO STAY

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

 

WHAT TO DO

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.

 

WHERE TO EAT

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

5/16/21

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

Ingredients
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

Directions
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.