What an Awesome Way to Start the Day

I came to work and noticed that some traffic was coming to my blog from Serious Eats. Turns out, they posted my Peach and Chocolate Chip Pancakes photo with the link to the recipe on their site! This totally made my day.


Egg in a Hole

I can't believe it's taken me more than a week to post this, but here it is, Egg in a Hole.

I first tried making this "recipe" about a year ago when I was visiting my parents in Seattle...alas, the bread completely burned, and I was slightly embarrassed. This time around, I tried to be more careful and not crank up the heat too high.

egg in a holeegg in a hole

1 tablespoon oil or butter
2 slices Italian bread
2 eggs
salt & pepper
tomatoes and dill for the salad

egg in a holeegg in a hole

1. Cut holes in Italian bread and toast the bread.
2. Heat oil or butter in a non-stick pan. Put the slices of bread in the pan and carefully crack an egg into each hole.
3. Cook for a few minutes and then carefully flip the slices of bread.
4. Cook a few more minutes.
5. Season with salt and pepper and serve with tomato/dill salad.

This was still not perfect...and I'm not sure if the flipping technique is necessarily the way to go, but the eggs/bread tasted good. I just wish the yolks were a bit more runny.

If you have a better technique, please share!


Daring Bakers: Bakewell Tart

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

I must confess I've never heard of a Bakewell Tart and was slightly apprehensive about baking this concoction. But, like any good Daring Baker, I decided to rise to the challenge.

The recipe is rather lengthy, so if you want it, just email me. Basically, there are 3 components to this tart. 1) Sweet Shortcrust Pastry 2) Frangipane (that's basically a combination of ground almonds, flour, butter, confectionery sugar and eggs 3) Jam (I used store-bought apricot jam).

Daring Bakers Bakewell TartDaring Bakers Bakewell Tart

This was a pretty straightforward challenge. I really liked the result, but brought most of the tart to work because seriously, I do not need all those calories! And I wasn't sure if the dessert would freeze well. The only "issue" I experienced, was that when I took out the first slice of the tart, the jam sort of oozed out...maybe I did not let the tart cool enough?

Daring Bakers Bakewell TartDaring Bakers Bakewell Tart

Here's a quick recap of what you do: make the crust. Let it sit in the refrigerator, then roll it out, put it into your tart pan and then into the freezer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile make Frangipane. Then add a layer of jam on top of the crust, then add a layer of Frangipane. Smooth everything out and bake it at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Add sliced almonds and bake 5 more minutes. Voila. You are done!

(click on collages for better detail)
Daring Bakers Bakewell TartDaring Bakers Bakewell Tart


Pancakes with Peaches and Chocolate Chips

Pancakes with Peaches and Chocolate Chips
Even if I was a mom, I doubt I'd make pancakes from scratch. I guess I'm a little bit like that semi-home-made lady on Food TV (but I'd like to think that I'm way better!). Often, I think it's perfectly ok to take canned or boxed ingredients and turn them into fabulous meals without feeling any guilt whatsoever.

Take pancakes for example. Having a quick boxed mix where you only need to add water is insanely convenient. Not having to worry about the amounts of flour/egg/oil/water/milk to mix gives you a chance to get creative and think of wonderful things you can add into your pancakes!

If you recall, once I made pancakes with apples, cranberries, dried apricots and pecans; another time I added fresh cherries into a pancake mixture, and who can forget my very popular broccoli pancakes?

This time I decided to stick to two add-ins: peaches and mini chocolate chips. Stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums) is in season, so feel free to use any of the stone fruit or a combination of a few! And of course you can never go wrong with mini chocolate chips.

Pancakes with Peaches and Chocolate ChipsPancakes with Peaches and Chocolate Chips

Ingredients and Directions

I made 1/2 of the basic recipe on the box of a pancake mix and added 1 peach, which I cubed, and a few tablespoons (approximately) of mini chocolate chips. Keep in mind that when you add solid things to your pancake mix, you might have to add a bit more liquid.

Pancakes with Peaches and Chocolate Chips Cook your pancakes per usual and serve with a few peach slices on the side and a drizzle of syrup.

Aren't you ready to make these over the weekend?


National Capital BBQ Battle and a few random things

Hi, boys and girls.

If you live in Washington DC area, I would like to encourage you to go to the National Capital BBQ Battle this weekend! I know the weather is going to be incredibly hot, but this is a fun event (and raises money for a great cause)! I went to this event 4 years ago and this year was invited to attend as "media" and can take 5 of my friends for free!!! I'll post pictures from the event next week.

From the news release: Over 50 teams from all over the US are competing for $40,000 at the National Barbecue Championship. We have already raised one million dollars over the years for the DC Boys and Girls' clubs, and we're starting on our second million. We've got lots of food, lots of music, and lots of kids activities.

In other news, please check out my recipe in DC Examiner for Beet Greens with Prosciutto.

beet greens with prosciutto And finally, I'm now going to be freelancing for Robyn Webb's blog, You Can Eat That. So far, I've written two posts, and will post one new article once a week. This is my new adventure with Robyn: I have been her recipe tester for the last 2-3 years: time flies.


Roasted Red Pepper & Cauliflower Soup

roasted red pepper & cauliflower soupThere was a lot of cooking this weekend in my little kitchen. Which also meant doing the dishes multiple times. But, I'm happy to report, that all the cooking was definitely worth it!

Just wait till you see my Daring Bakers challenge (June 27th is the big reveal day)!!!

But now on to this Roasted Red Pepper & Cauliflower Soup. I came up with this recipe because 1) red peppers were on sale for 50 cents each!!!! (unheard of!) and 2) I had a head of cauliflower left from testing one of Robyn Webb's recipes.

And although it's summer, I thought a pureed soup would do me some good. If you don't like cauliflower, feel free to substitute plain white potatoes or celery root or maybe even some butternut squash.

To add a bit extra flavor to the soup, I decided to add a whole head of roasted garlic. Be ready for your house to smell amazing while and after you prepare this recipe!

olive oil
4 red peppers, quartered, seeds removed and cut into big chunks
1 head of garlic, top cut off
salt & pepper
1 head cauliflower, cut into florettes
1 cup milk
1/2-1 cup cooking liquid from cauliflower
parsley, minced for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
2. Take a head of garlic, cut off the top and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap in aluminum foil and place on the cookie sheet.

how to roast garlic 3. Drizzle red peppers with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and scatter in one layer on the aluminum foil covered cookie sheet. Alternatively, you can roast whole peppers on a gas flame. (Pictures below are of peppers before and after the roasting process).

4. Roast the peppers and the garlic for 30 minutes.

roasted red peppersroasted red peppers

5. Meanwhile, cook cauliflower in salted water for about 20 minutes, or until cauliflower is completely tender. Drain the cauliflower, retaining about 1 cup of liquid.

6. In a food processor puree red peppers, cauliflower, 1 cup of milk and the squeezed out insides of the roasted garlic. If necessary, add 1/2 to 1 cup of retained cooking water (depending on how thick you want the soup to be). Season with salt and pepper.

7. Serve the soup in a bowl garnished with some chopped roasted red pepper and minced parsley. Note: this is a great soup to have for leftovers, as I found out. The recipe makes approximately 5 cups.

roasted red pepper & cauliflower souproasted red pepper & cauliflower soup


Panzanella with Mozzarella and Basil

Last week I went to Penn Quarter farmer's market and bought bread, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. I thought these ingredients absolutely screamed summer and decided to make a salad from them.

Panzanella is a bread salad usually made from bread, tomatoes and olive oil. This time, I decided to add fresh mozzarella.

tomato mozzarella basil italian bread saladtomato mozzarella basil italian bread salad

Ingredients for 1 serving (Anna suggested I start mentioning number of servings for my recipes)
1 tomato, cubed
5 basil leaves, torn
2 slices of Italian white bread, cubed
1 small ball of mozzarella, cubed
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat a bit of olive oil in a pan and saute the pieces of bread until they turn slightly golden. You can completely ignore this step and add the bread without sauteing it first, but the bread then would turn super soggy in the salad...and who wants that?
2. Combine tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and sauteed bread. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
3. Serve immediately!

tomato mozzarella basil italian bread saladtomato mozzarella basil italian bread salad


Farmer's Market: Penn Quarter in Washington, DC

Penn Quarter farmer's market, Washington DC Yesterday I left work a bit earlier than usual and walked to the Penn Quarter Freshfarm Market. I did not really have anything particular I wanted to buy: I just wanted to stroll around, see what was there and sample some stuff (LOVE free samples).

By the time I arrived at the market, it was full of people, despite the hot and sticky weather.

I did what I usually do at markets: walk through, see what's out there and then make a second/third/fourth walk-through and decide what to get.

Below: "the scene" and also the orchid booth! This booth gets me in trouble quite often, as I absolutely love orchids. But this time I restrained myself and did not take any of these beauties home. Ok, don't feel too bad for me: I have 4 orchids at home, and one at work: it's just that none of them are currently blooming.

Penn Quarter farmer's market, the scenePenn Quarter farmer's market, orchids

Then I saw the cutest mini eggplants at the Mountain View Farm stand. I just thought the price was a bit over the top. Instead, I bought a basil plant ($2) and a bunch of beets ($3.5o) from them. After getting home, I replanted the basil plant into a bigger pot and really hope it will survive for a while.

Then what made me really happy was seeing tomatoes! Remember, last time there were none to be found. I bought a bunch of tomatoes from Toigo Orchards stand ($5).

Penn Quarter farmer's market, eggplantPenn Quarter farmer's market, tomatoes

Here they are up close and personal!

Penn Quarter farmer's market, tomatoes I also could not resist buying bread (bought 1/2 of white Pagnotta = $3). But look at the other gorgeous creations they have!

Penn Quarter farmer's market, breadPenn Quarter farmer's market, bread

Well, how could I go home with tomatoes and basil and not buy mozzarella? I stopped by at the Blue Ridge Dairy Co booth and bought a container of fresh mozzarella. It was no longer on sale like the last time, but I decided to splurge ($7).

All in all, I spent $20.50 and am very pleased with my purchases. Stay tuned to see what I cooked up with my buys from the market.

Question: what have you recently bought at your local farmer's markets? And what did you cook with your purchases?


Shrimp with Lemony Dill Sauce

shrimp with dill-butter-lemon sauce Last night I decided to ignore the mess in my kitchen and to cook instead, meaning I added a few more bowls, knives and pans to the already overfilled sink. Yes, I know, gross! But sometimes I just want to ignore the dishes, make a fabulous dinner and then go dancing.

The dishes are awaiting me tonight.

Back to the food. I had shrimp and a bunch of dill in my refrigerator. So I came up with Shrimp with Lemony Dill Sauce recipe. The beauty of this sauce is that it can work amazingly well on top of chicken, fish, or mixed with blanched peas, asparagus or potatoes. You can serve this dish with rice, noodles, roasted potatoes or orzo. I did not have time to prepare any of those side dishes, so instead Imicrowaved some frozen Brussels Sprouts :)

for the sauce
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 garlic cloves, sliced
3 tablespoons finely chopped white onion or shallots
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
juice of one lemon (zest it first!)
handful of chopped dill
zest of one lemon

for the shrimp
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 pound medium sized shrimp, peeled and de-veined

shrimp with dill-butter-lemon sauceshrimp with dill-butter-lemon sauce

1. In a sauce pan melt 1 teaspoon of butter (reserve the rest for later). Saute garlic and onions in the butter until they are soft (do not brown too much!).
2. Add lemon juice (but first zest the lemon!!!), the remainder of the butter and red pepper flakes. Lower the heat and let it hang out until the shrimp are ready.
3. In a separate pan heat the vegetable oil and saute the shrimp 1 minute on each side. Be very careful not to over-cook the shrimp.
4. Add the shrimp to the lemony butter sauce and then add lemon zest and dill, making it lemony dill sauce. Adjust for seasonings with salt and pepper and serve immediately!

shrimp with dill-butter-lemon sauce


Armenian Festival in Old Town, Alexandria

A few weekends ago Cat and I went to Armenian Festival in Old Town, Alexandria, VA. I was so looking forward to it: good food, shopping (although I wasn't allowed to buy anything), and dancing. The amazing aroma of grilled chicken and lamb hit us the second we arrived at the festival. We did a quick walk through the shopping area and then like many other people got in line for food.

The menu was quite varied and all proceeds went to charity! Just an extra incentive to eat ;) armenian festival, menu I ended up buying a lamb kabob with lavash, hummus and dolma. I was sad to find out that lavash was cold, but the rest of the food did not disappoint. The lamb was perfectly grilled, tender, and had a bit of a smoky flavor. Hummus was really garlicky, and dolma was so good, I just wished it was bigger.

armenian festival, lamb kabob, hummusarmenian festival, lamb kabob, hummus

After we ate, we enjoyed Armenian dancers: fun music, gorgeous costumes and interesting choreography. The dancers really lucked out because the weather was overcast and not the 80 degree heat as was promised.

armenian festival, dancers, old town, alexandria I'm definitely looking forward to more Summer festivals!


Portfolio: Some of My Favorite Photos

Below is my portfolio: a slideshow of some of my favorite photos over the years. Enjoy!

Daring Cooks: Potstickers

This month's Daring Cooks challenge was Potstickers! I have made these delicious treats before, but have always used prepared wonton wrappers...not this time! I had to make all components from scratch.

Ground chicken was on sale, so I decided to make my filling with that ingredient:

2.5 ounces bamboo shoots, finely diced
2.5 ounces water chestnuts, finely diced
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
1 inch ginger, peeled, microplaned
2 garlic cloves, microplaned
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled, grated
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
1 pound ground chicken

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Fry up a few mini meatballs to see if you like the flavor. I did!

The dough was made from 2 cups of flour and about 1/2 water (add more water if necessary). Knead the dough for a few minutes and the let it sit covered for 15 minutes. I rolled out some of the dough using a rolling pin, but then decided to make life easier for myself and use my pasta machine! So much simpler! I also used my biscuit cutters to cut out the round shapes and then filled them with the ground chicken mixture. My crimping job wasn't the best, but it held everything together. I ended up leaving 2/3 of the dough and filling for the next day.

I decided to pan-fry my potstickers. What I did was pour a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a pan, added potstickers (in a pretty flower pattern) and let them brown on the bottom.
Then, I very careful poured 1/2 cup of water into the pan, covered it and let the water boil out. Once that happened, I took the lid off and let the potstickers cook for another 2 minutes.

Here's the dipping sauce that I made:

2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
1 scallion, minced
2 shakes of red pepper flakes
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Yesterday, I sauteed the rest of the filling in a pan and made wide pasta from the rest of the dough.