Portobello & Leek Gratin from Everyday Food by Martha Stewart

When I saw a recipe for Mushroom & Leek Gratin in Everyday Food Magazine, I knew I would make it.

I found a perfect occasion for this dish when my friend Cindy invited me to dinner at her house. Cindy LOVES mushrooms, so I knew she would appreciate this dish.

Alas, I wasn't able to find an oval two quart baking dish this recipe calls for. Instead, I used a round Pyrex dish and one mini casserole dish my mom gave me last year.

Of course, you can use whichever baking dish you want!

I followed the recipe pretty closely, but had to make a few changes:

1) My store did not have fresh thyme: I added three pinches of dry thyme
2) I increased the amount of leeks from two to three

This is a great dish for anyone who loves mushrooms!

Portobello & Leek Gratin
slightly adapted from Everyday Food Magazine

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 pounds large portobello mushrooms (about 6-8), stemmed and sliced 1/2 inch thick
3 leeks, white and light-green parts only, sliced in half lengthwise and then sliced thinly into half-moons, rinsed well
3 pinches of dry thyme
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Add two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil to a large skillet. In a single layer add as many mushrooms as you can fit, and cook about 4-5 minutes on each side. Repeat this process with the remaining mushrooms. {Note: the original recipe had you cook the mushroom in batches and tossing them occasionally, but I think my method works better because it gives you more control, and there is less chance the mushroom slices will break. Also, I added a bit of water from time to time to the mushrooms to speed up the cooking process and to make sure they didn't stick. Otherwise, you'd need a lot more oil.}

2. In a separate pan, add the remaining two tablespoons of oil. Allow the oil to heat and add leeks and dry thyme. Season the leeks with salt and pepper and cook for eight minutes, until the leeks have softened. Add your wine and continue to cook until most of the wine has evaporated. Stir in heavy cream and fresh lemon juice.

3. Add the leek mixture to the bottom of your baking dish. Top the leeks with mushroom slices, making sure the mushrooms slightly overlap. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake for 20-25 minutes.


Here's the final dish:

I really liked how this recipe turned out! If you don't want to make a gratin, turn this into a simple pasta dish. Slice the mushrooms and saute until almost soft. Add leeks and cook for another five minutes. Add wine and cook until it almost evaporates. Add defrosted peas, cream, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Pour this sauce over cooked pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan. That's what I had for dinner a few nights ago: leftovers were great for lunch.

If you want to impress your company, however, take the time to make the gratin!

Thank you so much for reading my blog in 2011, commenting, answering my questions and making suggestions.

I wish you a very happy 2012!!!

See you in the New Year.


Grapefruit Cakes with Lemon & Orange Zest

Last week I was submitting my photos to Foodgawker (in hopes that they will accept them and increase my blog traffic), when I saw a photograph of adorable little cakes they posted from another food blogger.

I clicked on the photograph to find a beautiful blog called the little kitchen and a recipe for Mini Meyer Lemon Bundt Cakes, inspired by a recipe for Tangerine Cake from Everyday Food.

I decided I just had to make these cakes. Why?  I've had a mini Bundt cake pan for at least three years and can't remember if I've ever used it. Plus, I love anything and everything miniature and also enjoy citrus flavored desserts.

Of course, when I went to my grocery store they didn't have Meyer lemons. I decided to use the juice of a grapefruit and the zest from an orange and lemon and change the little kitchen's recipe into Grapefruit Cakes with Lemon & Orange Zest.

Grapefruit Cakes with Lemon & Orange Zest

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons zest from an orange and a lemon
1/4 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1/3 cup fat-free plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
powdered sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 12-cup mini Bundt cake pan with baking spray {I of course just used regular spray and my cakes STUCK. My mom said I should have just used butter.}(note from my editor Dana: baking spray is just regular spray with fine flour/starch added.  If you spray the pans then flour them, banging out excess flour, they will work perfectly.)

2. In a large bowl using a hand mixer {if you have one} cream butter and sugar for about 3-5 minutes. Add eggs and mix well. Add the orange and lemon zest and grapefruit juice and combine.

3. In another bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt.
4. Add a third of the flour mixture and half of the yogurt into the butter/sugar mixture and mix. Repeat with the rest of the flour and yogurt. Make sure not to overmix.
5. Here's where I did not follow the directions from the little kitchen: She said to "using a medium or large cookie scoop, add 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons to each bundt cake cavity. Instead, I pretty much divided the dough amongst the 12 cups. If you use the original instructions, you'll definitely have some dough left over. If you use my directions, your mini cupcakes will spill over.
6. Tap the Bundt cake pan to release the bubbles and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cakes have turned golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
7. Invert the pan onto a parchment-lined cooling rack. Remove the pan and let the cakes rest for 15 minutes.

{Clearly, most of my cakes decided to stay inside the pan.}

8. Dust the cakes with powdered sugar.

So this was not a 100% successful outcome, but mostly it was my fault for not following directions. I take the blame. Still, the cakes that did manage to come out of the pan were moist, sweet, and light. And they looked really pretty!

I have one more recipe to share with you before 2011 is over, and that one was a 100% success!


Rugelach: how hard can it be? Plus, FOUR filling ideas.


Huh? Rugelach are Jewish cookies typically made with jams, cinnamon or nuts. The filling is rolled in a cream cheese dough and baked until the dough is golden brown.

I've had these cookies multiple times. My favorite filling is apricot jam with walnuts; I'm not a fan of cinnamon/sugar filling.

When I received a preview copy of Edible Brooklyn: The Cookbook and found a recipe for Cinnamon Nut Rugelach in it, I decided it was time I baked the rugelach.

A few notes:
1. I doubled the recipe in the book
2. I completely changed the steps for forming the cookies: instead of cutting the dough into triangles and then rolling each one into crescents, I rolled the dough out into a rectangle, sprinkled the filling on top, rolled the dough into a log, and then cut it.
3. I came up with four of my own fillings.

Rugelach Dough
(Recipe from Edible Brooklyn: The Cookbook)
makes ~ 32 cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups sifted flour {I had to use quite a bit more}

1. Blend together the butter, cream cheese, and sour cream in a large bowl. Gradually add the flour until you have a soft, but not sticky, dough. Form the dough into a ball and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

{I managed to not notice the directions that the dough needs to be kept in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. By the time I made the dough and read all the directions, it was too late to make the rugelach: basically it would be too dark to take photographs. I ended up freezing the dough and baking the rugelach a week later.}

Four types of Rugelach
Filling #1: 3-4 tablespoons peach jam, 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Directions (these apply regardless of which filling you use)
1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. Take 1/4 of the dough and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper into a rectangular'ish shape that is about 12" x 7". I found that sprinkling the dough with flour before covering it with the parchment paper helped quite a bit.
3. Refrigerate the dough for about 5 minutes. Spread the peach jam onto the dough and sprinkle the walnuts on top.

4. Roll the dough, put it back into the refrigerator for about 5 minutes, then cut it into ~ 3/4" slices.

5. Refrigerate the cut dough for 5-10 minutes, then bake on a parchment-covered cookie sheet for about 20 minutes.

Filling #2: 3-4 tablespoons Nutella; 1/4 cup dried sour cherries, chopped -- This one was my favorite!

Filling #3: 3-4 tablespoons peach jam, 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts, 1/4 cup golden raisins

Filling #4: 10 dates, chopped; 1-2 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts; 1/4 cup chocolate chips

As I said, the Nutella/Dried Sour Cherry filling was my favorite one:

Here are all four kinds of rugelach together:

This was quite a laborious baking project. I'm quite pleased with how everything worked out, but I'm not sure if I'll be making this any time soon :)

I shared these cookies with my friends and even sent some with my brother to Seattle to share with my parents. Everyone liked them!

Have you baked anything new in the kitchen lately?


Everyday Food's Chicken & Lentil Burger with my sping

Earlier this month my friend Stacey gave me the latest Everyday Food magazine. I paged through it and ripped out three different recipes that appealed to me.

Today, I'd like to share with you a recipe for Chicken and Lentil Burger. Of course I had to put my own spin on this by adding sundried tomato and goat cheese spread. Other than that, I pretty much followed Everyday Food's recipe, and it turned out great!

A few notes:
1. Although I almost always buy canned beans, I would never buy canned lentils. Lentils cook in about 20 minutes, and are so much better when you make them yourself. To get 2 cups of cooked lentils, start with about 3/4 to 1 cup of dry lentils.

2. Regular packages of ground chicken are usually one pound, and not 3/4 pound, as the recipe calls for, so I used the entire pound of ground chicken.

3. I also added more cilantro and used Sandwich Thins instead of English muffins.

4. I served this burger with Zesty & Spicy Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes.

Chicken and Lentil Burgers with Sundried Tomato & Goat Cheese Spread
Slightly adapted from Everyday Food Magazine recipe
makes 6 burgers

3 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 teaspoons cumin
1 pound ground chicken
2 cups cooked lentils
3 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs (I used challah)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
8 sundried tomato halves
3 tablespoons goat cheese
6 Sandwich Thins

1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add onion and saute for about 7 minutes, until golden brown. Add cumin, and cook for another minute.
2. Transfer the onions to a bowl with ground chicken, lentils, breadcrumbs, egg, cilantro, salt & pepper. Combine.
3. Make 6 patties and cook them in the remaining oil for 4-5 minutes on each side.

4. In a food processor, puree sundried tomatoes with goat cheese.
5. Toast the buns and spread the bottom half with sundried tomato & goat cheese mixture. Add the chicken and lentil burger, lettuce, and top with the other half of the bun.

I really liked the flavor of these burgers. If you want to add a bit of heat, add a few chipotle in adobo sauce either to the spread or to the chicken/lentil mixture. These would also be good as meatballs.

I want to wish everyone a very Happy Hanukkah! Hope it brings small and big miracles into your lives. For those celebrating Christmas, have a great time with your family and friends.


Zesty & Spicy Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes

I love Brussels sprouts. I typically roast them with different spices, or add shallots, bacon, balsamic vinegar, or a fried egg on top. Go ahead and type "Brussels sprouts" in the search box to the right and you'll find many ideas.

This time around, I decided to make Zesty & Spicy Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes.
I love the combination of bright green Brussels sprouts with the orange sweet potatoes. If you are not a fan of sweet potatoes, go ahead and use regular potatoes.

Before I give you my recipe, I wanted to give a shout out to Blue Ridge Cutting Board Company--I bought one of their boards at a holiday market in DC over the weekend and absolutely love it. It is incredibly smooth, and the knotty wood is gorgeous. There is no way I will use a knife on this board: it's too pretty for that. Instead, you'll see it in some of my photographs on this blog.

Zesty & Spicy Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes

Olive oil
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
4 small sweet potatoes, peeled, sliced into 1/4 inch medallions
salt & pepper
zest & juice of 1 lemon {reserve the zest for the last step}
2 tablespoons Mrs. Dash Southwestern Chipotle seasoning

1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
2. In a large bowl, mix together Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, salt & pepper, lemon juice and Southwestern Chipotle seasoning.
3. Line two cookie sheets with aluminum foil. Distribute the vegetables between two sheets, making sure the vegetables do not overlap.
4. Roast Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes for 30-35 minutes, occasionally shaking them up.
5. Before serving, drizzle the vegetables with a bit more olive oil and mix in lemon zest.

And now on to the photographs :)

How do YOU like to eat Brussels sprouts?


Brunch at Zaytinya in DC

This past Saturday I met my friend Cecilia for brunch at Zaytinya.

I've dined at Zaytinya many times over the years, but have never tried their brunch menu. It was time to change this!

Instead of ordering a standard mimosa, both Cecilia and I {let me just clarify that she copied me ;) } chose Istanbul, Not Constantinople cocktails. The cocktails had Maker's Mark bourbon, apricot eau-de-vie, Turkish apricot nectar, and apricot-raki air.

After clinking our glasses and trying the first sip of the cocktail, we both thought they needed some sugar. We asked and received a small glass of simple syrup: that really made the cocktail work. One was plenty for me ;)

The brunch menu has five options to choose from, but you can also order from Zaytinya's regular menu.

Cecilia and I choose two dishes to share and then ordered an additional dish for ourselves.

We shared Crispy Brussels Afelia (Brussels sprouts, coriander seed, barberries and garlic yogurt) and Bantijan Bil Laban (crispy eggplant with roasted garlic-yogurt sauce).

Both dishes were spot on: if you think you don't like Brussels sprouts, roast them! If you don't think you like eggplant, fry it. Luckily, I love both of these vegetables, so the fried preparation of the eggplant was just a cherry on top. I had to restrain myself from licking the sauce from the plates.

For my brunch dish I ordered Patata Harra (fried egg, loucaniko sausage, potato, cilantro, and allepo pepper).

I don't think I'd ever get bored with breaking the eggwhite of a perfectly prepared fried or poached egg and seeing the sunny yolk ooze out! I could eat this for breakfast every single day of my life. {No worries, could doesn't mean I actually would do that.}

When our waiter asked if we'd like dessert, both Cecilia and I said we'd be happy to look at the menu. I highly recommended Greek yogurt served with apricots and pistachios: it was fitting as our cocktails had apricot flavors!

Great brunch, great company, and solid service.

What dishes do you typically order for brunch?