Roasted Fennel with Tofu and Oranges

Ideas for recipes come to me from television shows, other blogs, meals I eat out, etc. Yesterday morning I was watching Alex's Day Off, and she was making fennel. For some reason that made me want to have fennel, although I'm not a huge fan of this vegetable: not growing up with licorice flavored foods, it's not something I typically crave.

One of my favorite ways to eat fennel, however, is with oranges. The sweetness of the oranges is a great contrast to the strong flavored fennel. I also had a container of Nasoya's cubed super firm tofu in my refrigerator and decided to use that in my dish.

Roasted Fennel with Tofu and Oranges


1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons microplane-d ginger
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, microplane-d

8 ounces Nasoya cubed extra firm tofu (next time, however, I'd definitely buy the block of tofu and cube it myself because these cubes were too little for my taste)
1 bulb of fennel, cored, thinly sliced
1 orange, segmented
salt & pepper to taste

1. Combine all ingredients for the marinade and pour into two different bowls. Add tofu to one and fennel to another. Marinade for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 450. Drain fennel (keep the marinade!) and add to a cookie sheet. Roast for 15 minutes.
3. In a skillet with a bit of oil stir fry tofu (again, remember to drain it first and keep the marinade).
4. In a small pot add strained marinade and heat until it becomes thick.
5. Combine roasted fennel with tofu (this recipe only needs about 1/4 of the amount--use the rest for another dish) and oranges. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the thickened marinade.

Thoughts: If I were to do this recipe again, I'd add red onions, cubed red peppers and some salted peanuts. But otherwise it was goo, and pretty healthy. What do you think?

PS Don't forget you have a month to enter my Mango & Tomato 2 year recipe contest and giveaway.


Fun at a farm: Eco Farm with DC Food Bloggers

First, a quick reminder to enter my 2 year anniversary recipe contest!! Recipes must include both mangoes and tomatoes.

When Mary of Arugula Files sent a message to some of the DC food bloggers about volunteering at a local farm, I signed up without giving it too much thought.

Are you nuts? Asked some of my friends? You see, I will be the first one to admit that I'm not a huge of manual labor, getting my hands dirty (unless I'm cooking, or making pottery), and being out on the sun for long periods of time. But once in a while, I like doing things that are out of my comfort zone. Plus, it was a great chance to hang out with my food blogging friends.

Mary, Elyssa of State Dinner and I met up for brunch, and then joined Luke and Joe of Passion Fruits, Maya of Maya's Kitchen and Tammy of Florida Girl in DC at Eco Farms in Lanham, MD. Eco Farm sells its organic produce to some of DC area's top restaurants!!!

After meeting some of the other volunteers and getting a quick spiel about the farm, we got our gloves on (I wasn't about to ruin my manicure) and set to work. First we had to weed out some beds.  My mom would have loved to see me pulling weeds, since I never like doing that when I visit her in Seattle. This is a before picture.

There were already some beets and cucumber plants in the ground.

Then Mike Pappas, the owner of the farm, talked about the dirt and the use of U-bar before we were ready to start planting more beet and pepper plants.

Let me just remind you that I am a city girl: I was born and raised in Moscow. My family didn't have a dacha (a summer vacation home), and so I wasn't really exposed to any gardening. When we moved to the States, we settled in Seattle, another big city. And although eventually my parents bought a house with a bit of land, which my mom tends to with her plants, I had no idea what a U-bar is and what it does. Turns out, it tills the land. You dig it deep into the ground, then stand on it, and then use your body weight to tilt it so that some of the dirt comes out.....just look at the pictures! Mary was the first brave person to give it a try.

And then it was my turn!!!!

All of a sudden, Mike called all of us to come over because there was a giant turtle that made an appearance.

After doing more work, we were treated to a sweet & cold watermelon and some iced tea. I love it when volunteers are being treated well.

Here are some photos of bibb lettuce already growing on the farm.

I love beets: I'm holding mini beet plants that we then planted. Check out the gorgeous root system!

Tammy and Elyssa:

A few varieties of basil:

The green house:

After our had work, we were fed!!! Several types of pesto, hummus, grilled vegetables, cous cous and cookies!

This was a great experience. I'm definitely not caught up to be a farmer, but I'm glad I came and spend a day on a farm.


Mango & Strawberry Nasoya Smoothie

A while back, I won one of Nasoya's recipe contests, and as a gift received a really nice cutting board, an apron, a bag and a bunch of coupons for their products. I decided to try out their vanilla flavored silken tofu. This would be the first time I've ever cooked with silken tofu.

Not wanting to be super adventurous and having some ripe champagne mangoes (thanks, Cindy!), I chose to come up with a recipe for a smoothie. This could not be easier (unless you just bought one at a smoothie cart).

1 package of Nasoya vanilla silken tofu, divided in half
3 ripe mangoes, peeled, seed removed, cut into large chunks
20 strawberries
extra strawberries for decorations

1. In a food processor pure mangoes with 1/2 of silken tofu. Pour into a container.
2. Quickly rinse the food processor, add strawberries and the remaining silken tofu and puree.
3. Fill your favorite glass with mango and strawberry mixture alternating between colors and flavors.
4. Top off with a strawberry.

You can obviously combine both strawberries and mangoes in the food processor, but I think the layered look is very pretty!

Have you used silken tofu? If so, what did you make?

And please don't forget to check out my Mango & Tomato recipe contest that goes till the end of June.


Mango & Tomato Turns 2: Recipe Contest/Giveaway

Guess who is turning 2 this May? Mango & Tomato, that's who!

I can't believe I've been sharing my passion for food with all of you for the last two years.

So much has happened in the last two years. I had a chance to meet many amazing food bloggers, visit wonderful restaurants, try new products, make simple and delicious recipes and join Twitter!

Obviously I don't make every single recipe with mangoes or tomatoes, but I still absolutely love them.

Here are some photographs of wonderfully sweet champagne mangoes my friend Cindy brought for me and beautiful red and meaty heirloom tomatoes.

So here is where you come in to help me celebrate! I decided to have a recipe contest. The winner of the contest will win a $25 card to Whole Foods and a $25 card to Sur La Table.

1. Create an original recipe that includes both mangoes and tomatoes.
2. Post the recipe on your blog with at least one photograph and a link back to this post. {If you don't have a blog, you can still enter. Just skip this step and go to step #3.}
3. Email me the link to your post with your best photograph attached by June 30th. {Sorry, only those in the USA are eligible to win, but anyone can create recipes!}

The runner up will receive 25 Disposable, Biodegradable, Compostable and Sturdy Palm Plates in different shapes and sizes courtesy of MarxFoods. Thank you Justin!!! These are the plates you see in my photos. I received these plates to test and really like them. So far I used them as fruit and vegetable bowls and a place to keep my jewelry. But you can also bring them along for picnics: perfect for the summer. Obviously the runner up of my recipe contest will be receiving brand new plates ;)

Good luck to everyone! I cannot wait to see what you come up with.


Publicity & Mini Egg Frittatas with Broccoli and Sundried Tomatoes

A few weeks ago I received an email from a reporter at the Washington Post Express asking if I'd like to talk about brunch. Brunch is food. I love food. I love talking about food, so of course I said yes.

After our phone conversation, Katie Aberbach, the reporter, asked if it'd be ok for them to send over a photographer to take photos of my food and of me. Thus, last Sunday I cooked a few dishes, cleaned my apartment, bought flowers, got dressed up and made up and waited for Lawrence Luk to take my photos.

What you see below is a photo of my Mini Egg Frittatatas with Broccoli and Sundried Tomatoes on the cover of the Lookout section in Express and the article that mentions me and shows a few more photos of my food. If you are in DC area, pick up the free Express paper today! [Note: all the photos in the article are by Lawrence Luk. The photos of the recipe in this blog, are mine.]

You can read the article here.

And now, a recipe for Mini Egg Frittatas with Broccoli and Sundried Tomatoes

1 teaspoon oil from sundried tomatoes (or use olive oil)
1/2 cup separated broccoli florettes
1/2 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes
3 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
Salt & pepper
2 ounces Pepper jack cheese, grated
2 teaspoons chopped dill
PAM oil spray

1. Preheat the oven to 450
2. In a skillet heat the oil. Add onions and broccoli and sauté for 4 minutes. Add sundried tomatoes.
3. Whisk together eggs, milk and season with salt & pepper. Mix in the cheese and dill.
4. Spray two mini ramekins with PAM. Add broccoli/shallots/sundried tomato mixture to each. Top off with the egg mixture.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes.


Preview of a new Whole Foods in Friendship Heights

When I received an email inviting me to an opening of a new Whole Foods store in Chevy Chase, MD, I was intrigued. I first must admit that I do 99.9% of my grocery shopping at Harris Teeter, which is just a few blocks away from my apartment.

Occasionally, however, when I can't find certain ingredients for my freelancing job for  Robyn Webb, I make a trip to Whole Foods. Still, who can pass up an invitation to check out a brand new store and stroll the aisles with mere 20 people vs hundreds of people pushing their way with their carts, crying children and long lines at the registers?

This is going to be mostly a "look at the photos" post. But I'll tell you a few things that stood out for me during the tour of the new Whole Foods.

1) Immediately, I was greeted by the sea of orchids. Orchids are my favorite flowers in the world! In fact, my email address contains a word orchid! These were absolutely gorgeous, and on sale for $9.99! Alas, I wasn't able to purchase an orchid plant because the registers weren't open.

2) There were at least 3 varieties of tomatoes, most on sale as well. They were so pretty and neatly stacked.

3) Whole Foods bakes their own macarons! I tried a lemon and a chocolate one. Lemon flavor definitely was better.

4) The store has professional butchers: this is such a plus. At my grocery store, the guy at the butcher department did not know how many ounces there are in a pound (16!).

5) The seafood department can cut/skin/etc your fish any way you want. And on top of it, it provides you a free marinade.

6) If you are not a baker, check out the bakery department: gorgeous cupcakes, eclairs, cakes and all at very reasonable prices.

7) In the health & beauty department, you can buy bath salts by weight and cut your own soap.

8) At the end of the tour, we were treated to some finger foods and received a gift bag, which I absolutely loved. This was a really fun experience.

and now picture time! (I have no idea why the photos are not aligned: I try to fix the html code, but it did not help)

What is YOUR favorite grocery store and WHY?