Mascarpone Pancakes with Raspberries

Earlier this month, Alejandra asked if I'd like to have brunch with a few of her friends in her apartment (which also happened to have an amazing roof deck). Of course I said yes and showed up with a bottle of champagne and a carton of orange juice.

Alejandra made Mascarpone Pancakes with Blueberries and Lemon Curd, and we all enjoyed them sitting outside, taking in the sunshine and sipping mimosas.

Last weekend I decided to make mascarpone pancakes for myself. This is not something I'd typically do: instead, I usually just use a mix and add a few fun ingredients to make semi-homemade pancakes. This time around I had leftover mascarpone cheese from making Robyn Webb's stuffed dates and decided to make good use of it.

Copied by permission from Alejandra's blog (I made 1/2 of this recipe and eliminated salt):

1 1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon. baking powder
1/2 cup mascarpone at room temperature
3/4 cup 1 tablespoon whole milk
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Sift dry ingredients together. In another bowl, mix mascarpone, milk, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest until well combined. Pour into dry ingredients and mix only until moist. Pour mixture onto well-heated griddle and cook until golden on each side. {I used my lovely green pan for this.}

I served the pancakes with syrup, powdered sugar and fresh raspberries. The texture was incredibly smooth. They are best eaten right away, but can also be re-heated the next day.

Enjoy the photos: I'm in love with them :)


Dill-icious Matzo Ball Soup for Passover or Just Because

Today is Passover, but also mine and Anna's 31st bday!!! Yeai :)

I'm a cultural Jew: I don't keep kosher, or Shabbat, or go to synagogue. But I like Jewish traditions and culture, and of course Jewish food.

One of my favorites is a matzo ball soup. I always use a boxed mix and add a few extra ingredients to give it my own spin.

Dill-icious Matzo Ball Soup
1 boxed mix of matzo ball soup
1/4 cup chopped dill
2 cups defrosted peas
4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

Follow directions on the box, but add 1/4 cup dill to the matzo ball mix. Add peas and carrots during the last 5 minutes of the cooking process. Enjoy!


DC Food Bloggers Happy Hour at Vinoteka

I can't believe it took me almost a month to post this. Here's a quick recap of a DC Food Bloggers Happy Hour at Vinoteca.{This also is a bit of cheating, since I have no recipes to post till at least tomorrow or possibly Monday!}

Vinoteca is located in U Street district of DC, and we completely took over the space!


There are two areas: a bar and then this cozy looking dining room. Unfortunately, if you want to order from the Happy Hour Menu, you have to stay in the bar area.

The menu consists of a generous selection of red and white wine by a glass for $5 (I had vinho verde) and six appetizers.

First, I had 2 sliders: lamb with feta and roasted red peppers AND pulled pork with pickled carrots and honey aioli. Loved both of them. This was definitely more inventive than ground beef with a piece of cheese.

I was still hungry and debated between ordering a second glass of wine or more food. Of course, food won. For the life of me I can't remember what I ordered, but here is a photo of ThriftyDCCook's royal trumpet mushroom crostini.

Alas, I'll be missing next month's DC Food Blogger Happy Hour. But if you love food, have a blog, and live in DC area, check it out!


Russian Cabbage Crescent Rolls

I'm not sure why, but for some reason last weekend I was reminiscing about some of the dishes my mom used to make in Russia. For example, for breakfast I made polenta with feta she used to make on Sundays, but also added sundried tomatoes and green onions: such a comfort-y dish! Unfortunately, the photographs came out rather unappetizing, so there will be no post.

Then, I remembered cabbage stuffed pierogi she used to make when we lived in Moscow. She still makes them in Seattle from time to time, but uses store-bough biscuit dough instead. I decided to recreate the recipe from memory and of course add a few of my personal touches!

Russian Cabbage Crescent Rolls

3 bacon strips, chopped
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 head cabbage, thinly sliced
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
3 scallions, thinly sliced
salt & pepper
3 containers of refrigerated crescent roll dough (they come in count of 8)

1. In a large skillet cook bacon for 2-3 minutes. Add the onions and saute until the onions are brown.
2. Add cabbage, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook until cabbage has wilted.
3. Let the mixture cool, season with salt and pepper. Add hardboiled eggs and green onions.

4. Preheat the oven to 375.
5. Carefully open each package of crescent rolls, unroll the dough and put a tablespoon of filling on top of the wide part of the triangle. Carefully pinching the sides, roll the crescent rolls.
6. Bake the rolls for 15 minutes.

And here they are straight out of the oven! They smelled and looked great.

I was really happy with how the recipe turned out. In case you have some leftover filling, eat it as a side dish. It's best to serve these crescent rolls immediately!

What are some of your favorite childhood dishes you still make today?


Bake Sale for Haiti

Unfortunately, I would not be able to participate in this, but if you are in DC area on Sunday morning, March 28th, please buy some great baked goods and help raise money for Haiti.

From Adventures in Shaw:
"DC Food Bloggers are at it again! Making bake sales cool again, a group of DC area food bloggers have gotten together to whip up some tasty treats for a great cause.  This time the bake sale will be on the patio at Zorba’s Cafe (big, big thank you for their support) on Sunday, March 28th from 9 am to 11 am!  All the proceeds from this bake sale will go towards Doctors Without Borders’ relief efforts in Haiti.  Please, please, please come out before hitting up the Dupont Circle Farmers Market and buy some goodies! We’d love to sell out this bake sale too!  And if you would like to volunteer to help (we need bakers, we need sellers, we need set up and clean up help!), drop me an email!  And feel free to gank the above flyer (made by Thrifty DC Cook’s awesome cousin Thomas) to pimp out the bake sale on your blog, website, office bathroom door, etc. Oh yeah, it’s shameless promotion time…but it’s all for a good cause!"


How to make juicy turkey meatballs

Love meatballs? Who doesn't? I usually make either beef or chicken meatballs, but last week ground turkey was on sale, and I decided to experiment with it. The problem with ground turkey is that it can be rather dry. But no worries! This recipe that I came up with give you juicy turkey meatballs: trust me!

1 pound ground turkey {Big thanks to my brother, Misha, for telling me that I originally wrote down ground beef...oops}
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1 yellow zucchini, shredded
1 egg
3 garlic cloves, minced
salt & pepper
3 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 cup panko crumbs
1/4 cup water
24 ounce Arrabbiata Bertolli spicy tomato and red pepper sauce
1 tablespoon sugar

1. Combine all ingredients other than Bertolli sauce and sugar. Form into about 20 meatballs.

2. In a cast iron Lodge skillet heat a bit of oil and brown the meatballs in batches until they are brown on all sides. Be careful when you turn them around because they'll be a bit fragile and not like hockey pucks!

3. Add Bertolli sauce and sugar to the skillet. Then carefully add the meatballs to the sauce, making sure to spoon the sauce over the meatballs. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Make sure the meatballs are cooked through on the inside.

Serve the meatballs with mashed potatoes, over spaghetti, with rice or as appetizers.


Brunch at Birch & Barley

Remember my dinner at Tallula? How about my lunch at Bourbon Steak? Both dining experiences were a result of being invited to test out new menus by Sangeetha and Amber of Pfau Communications. And so when last month Sangeetha emailed me to see if I'd be interested in joining her and a few other DC food bloggers to try a new brunch menu at Birch & Barley, my response was YES!

This was my first time at Birch & Barley, although I've heard a lot of positive chat about this stylishly modern restaurant from area food lovers and food critics. Despite having less than 6 hours of sleep, and having to deal with a cold rainy Sunday morning, I was looking forward to brunch-ing with Sangeetha, Adventures in Shaw, The Arugula Files, Capital Spice and Brunch and the City.

First things first, coffee! And unlike another place I wrote about, this one was good :)

The brunch menu fit on one page, which is a good thing for someone like me, who doesn't like to be overwhelmed with too many options early in the morning (or ever).  The dishes included favorites like fried chicken and waffles, omelets, and French Toast, but also had a few surprises: Italian sausage flatbread, Truffled Croque Madame, and Corned Beef Hash. Oh which one to choose?

Before making our choices, we ordered a pitcher of Brunch Punch (Chamomile tea, orange juice, triple sec, old overhold rye whiskey): and what a punch it had! I was happy I did not have to perform any important tasks later on the day, because the punch went straight to my head.

Another awesome thing about eating out with Sangeetha is that she always "makes us" order a few things to share on top of our individual choices. This time, we started with dessert: sticky buns and freshly fried donuts.

Look at this beauty! It wasn't overly sweet, or overly sticky, but just a perfect combination of both. I'd be happy to have one for breakfast daily. {By the way, to learn more about the pastry chef in Birch & Barley, check out Jenna's post on Modern Domestic.}

The donut trio included a cinnamon-sugar donut, a chocolate glazed donut, and a lemon poppy seed donut. The last one was my favorite: the amount of lemon flavor that hit you with each bite was refreshing, surprising and had you asking for more.

Oh, and I'm not nearly done! Check out this photo I took of all the food we ordered. Does this look like a medieval painting, or what?

For my entree, I ordered Corned Beef Hash with Fried Duck Eggs and Parsley. This was my first time trying duck eggs, and I was not disappointed. The yolks were rich in both the yellow color and the buttery flavor. And I was happy to taste the perfectly cooked through potatoes (one of my biggest pet peeves is when breakfast potatoes are under-cooked). And if the amount of beef on my plate wasn't enough, I also had a few strips of bacon (you can see it better on the photograph above).

Others ordered Truffled Croque Madame with Canadian Bacon and a Simple Salad,

We also shared a plate of fresh oysters,

Hash Browns,

Chicken Flatbread, etc, etc, etc.

Needless to say, there was a lot of good food to go around, and we did our best to finish as much of it as could possibly fit into our stomachs. But we could not finish it all.

This by far is one of the best ways to spend a Sunday morning: strong coffee, strong punch, delicious/innovative/unpretentious food and entertaining company. At least four of us had the same Canon Rebel SLR cameras: you should have seen us trying to outdo each other in the photo-taking tasks (Sangeetha promised that the best photo will win a prize....I'm on pins and needles).


Move over oatmeal! It's quinoa's time to shine as breakfast food.

Sometimes I can't be bothered to plan for breakfast. Don't get me wrong, I never skip breakfast, but sometimes it's just an after thought. You see, I'm not a huge fan of cereal with milk, or oatmeal, or granola bars. In fact, I'd rather have something savory for breakfast such as bagels with cream cheese and lox, hummus or even chips and salsa.

Yesterday I took a day off work because whatever "bug" my body has been having for the last week hasn't entirely gone away. I opted for a day of couch sitting and TV watching. This, however, was also a great opportunity to make something that would last me a few days for breakfast.

In comes quinoa! Yes, move over oatmeal: it's quinoa's time to shine as breakfast food.

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
4 tablespoons dry milk (** you can omit this ingredient and just use 2 cups of milk to begin with, or just use water)
zest and juice of 1/2 orange
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and cubed
1/3 cup dried cranberries

1. Rinse quinoa in a fine strainer. Add to a pot with water and dry milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the grain is cooked through.
2. Combine quinoa with the rest of the ingredients.

You can serve this dish hot or cold. Add a bit of sugar if you like your breakfast on a sweeter side. Try to experiment with different dried fruit!

What are you eating for breakfast these days?


Daring Cooks: Tri Colored Roasted Pepper & Pea Risotto with Cheddar

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

Once again, I was happy not to be intimidated by this challenge since I've made risotto a few times in the past and did not find the task too complicated.

We also had to make broth from scratching. The recipe I came up with is one of those "clean out the refrigerator" recipes.

2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 small rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
10 pepper corns
3 tablespoons cilantro
3 dry de arbol chiles
6 cups water

1. Add all ingredients to a pot. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 45 min. Strain.

Now to the risotto part: if you want a full recipe, let me know. I made two changes to the original recipe: using Cheddar cheese instead of Parmesan and using red onions instead of regular ones.
Note: my SLR camera told me to charge my battery as soon as I started working on this post. Thus, the photographs you see here were shot with my point/shoot camera. Ugh, the difference is huge.

1. In oil cook chopped red onions.

2. Add aborio rice and cook for a few minutes, making sure each grain is coated with oil.


3. Add a bit of wine, and cook until it evaporates. In several batches, add the broth, making sure it is cooked off before adding more.

4. Once the rice is cooked through, add the toppings: I added a cup of defrosted peas and roasted red and yellow peppers. How do you roast peppers? Find out here.

5. Next, add cheese, let it melt. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes before serving.

I was pretty happy with how this came out!

What do you like to add to your risotto?