Happy 2013!!

I wish everyone a very healthy, happy and successful 2013! May you and your family be surrounded by good people, delicious food and fun adventures.

If there is something you'd like to see on Mango & Tomato in 2013, let me know!

Photo credit: Stephen Gosling


Sour Cream Cake (Smetannik): Russian Recipes Revisited

It's almost the end of December, so it's time for the monthly Russian Recipes Revisited post!

Today I bring you a recipe for Sour Cream Cake, aka Smetannik (in Russian, sour cream is smetana).

Growing up in Moscow, Russia, children's birthday celebrations weren't spent at a restaurant and involved way more than two hours, a cake and a clown. Anna and I (since we are twins!) would have our close friends over to our house, eat a ton of food our mom has prepared, play games, go out for ice cream and come back for cake and tea. These birthday parties often lasted at least four to six hours. Good times!

The cake that my mom often made for our birthday was smetannik: Sour Cream Cake. You are shocked I am a fan of the cake, right? After all, I often go for dessert that has dark chocolate in it. But this cake brings such fond memories from my childhood.

My mom has been baking this cake for celebratory occasions ever since we moved to the States, but because my entire family is in Seattle, while I'm in DC area, I miss out on many slices of this particular cake. Finally, after many phone calls and pleas, my mom agreed to write down the recipe for the cake and send it to me.

Yes, that's my mom's handwriting with a few notes from me. You can tell beautiful handwriting is not our strongest suit ;)

I read over the recipe, called my mom with questions about a few steps, nervously listened as she made suggestions and edited some of the directions, and then I started to FLIP OUT! Will I be able to make this recipe? Will it turn out as delicious as my mom's? Will it be good enough to bring to a friend's house for Christmas dinner?

Let me just say that I was a nervous wreck until I took a bite of the cake and realized that I succeeded!!!

This recipe is not a 100% perfect. One of my cakes totally burned on the bottom. I'm not sure if it's because of the unevenness of my oven or because of the cake pan I used. But all in all, I'm happy with the final result.

NOTE/Warning: you want to have two full days to make this cake!

Sour Cream Cake (Smetannik)
Makes 2 cakes

For the cakes
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 eggs
8 ounces unsalted butter
1/4 cup honey
4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the sour cream "frosting"
32 ounces sour cream (full fat!!)
2 cups sugar

For the topping
You can use 1 1/2 cups of toasted walnuts per cake or 1 bar of dark chocolate, grated, per cake.

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. {If I were to make this again, I would probably do 375F.}
2. In a large bowl, add sugar and beat in one egg at a time with a hand-held mixer.

3. Melt the butter and let it cool.
4. Meanwhile, whisk together flour and baking soda.
5. Add honey and cooled butter into the sugar/egg mixture and combine.
6. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ones.

7. Line the bottom of the two 9" round baking pans with parchment paper. {I used one cake pan and one spring form; the cake in the cake pan burned on the bottom, while the one in the spring form didn't.}
8. Divide the cake batter equally between the two pans. Wet your hand with cold water and carefully smooth out the batter until it's even.
9. Bake the cakes for about 30 minutes.

The cake in the picture below is the one that burned on the bottom. What did I do? I called my mom and started FREAKING out!!! That's my typical response to when things don't go my way. My mom tried to calm me down, but it wasn't working.

I was not happy the cake was burned on the bottom. I was not happy the top of the cake was too rounded instead of flat. I was FREAKING out about cutting this not-so-tall cake into THREE layers.

My mom offered to go on Skype with me so she could actually look at the cakes, but I was not having any of this.

I told her I was not discussing the matter at hand any more.

I never claimed to be calm and collected.

After hanging up, I turned on Latin music and got to work.

Back to directions...

10. Let the cakes cool and remove them from the baking pans.
11. Level off the top of the cakes and trim the edges (remove the crust). If your cakes burned on the bottom as one of mine, cut off the burned part.
12. Breath!

13. Using a long serrated knife, divide each cake into three layers. This will not be easy. But I did it, and so can you!

14. Combine the sour cream with sugar.

15. For each cake, put the bottom layer on a plate and make holes in each layer with a fork. Spread the sour cream sugar mixture and allow the cake to stand for 30 minutes. Repeat with the remaining layers and top each cake and the sides with sour cream sugar mixture.

16. Let the cakes stand for 1-2 hours in your kitchen before moving them into the refrigerator for at least one day!
17. On the day you will be serving the cake, "dust it" with either dark chocolate or toasted walnuts. My mom also decorates the top of the cake with jarred pitted sour cherries or halved mandarin slices.

Isn't it a beauty? I think it was worth all the freaking out and self doubt I went through.

The cake is not really tall, but it's pretty filling. The layers are saturated with sour cream mixture and the added crunch of the shredded dark chocolate brings another dimension to the cake.

This is the second cake with toasted walnuts:

Phew! I think this took almost as long to write up as it did to make ;)

Please let me know what other Russian Recipes Revisited you may like to see in 2013!

Special thanks to my mom for sending me the recipe and doing her best to be patient with me.


Lamb & Potato Enchilada Casserole

Remember the Lamb Tacos I posted a earlier this month? Well, I had a bit of roasted lamb left, not to mention the corn tortillas, so I decided to make enchiladas. Alas, the tortillas were quite small and would be a pain to roll, so I thought of something else: a Lamb & Potato Enchilada Casserole! It's incredibly easy to make, tastes delicious and is great for leftovers.

If you don't have lamb, you can use chicken, beef or pork.

Thanks to Anna and a few of my twitter followers for the suggestion to use potatoes! What's not to like about carbs and more carbs? :)

Lamb & Potato Enchilada Casserole
Serves 4-8 depending on how hungry you are

28 ounce can Green Chile Enchilada Sauce
10-15 5 1/2" yellow corn tortillas, halved
2 cups shredded roasted lamb
2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese
5 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, cubed and cooked in salted water until tender
chopped cilantro
pickled red onions

1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. Add enough enchilada sauce to cover the bottom of your baking dish.
3. Add a layer of tortillas followed by lamb and cheese.
4. Add another layer of tortillas, potatoes, enchilada sauce and cheese.
5. Alternate the layers with lamb and potatoes and finish the casserole with a layer of tortillas, enchilada sauce and cheese.
6. Bake for about 30-40 minutes until the cheese is bubbling. Let the casserole stand for about 10 minutes before cutting into it.
7. Serve topped with cilantro and pickled red onions.

How good does this look!?!?

What's your favorite casserole to make during cold winter months?


Cranberry, Orange Zest & Crystallized Ginger Cakes

This post is quite overdue, but if you can still find fresh cranberries, please make these Cranberry, Orange Zest & Crystallized Ginger Cakes!

Right before Thanksgiving, I saw a beautiful recipe for Fresh Cranberry Tea Cakes on Liren's Kitchen Confidante blog and knew I had to do something like that. But of course I had to change a few things: I added orange zest and crystallized ginger (thanks Anna for the ginger suggestion) and also made the recipe into mini cakes using a muffin tin.

Cranberry, Orange Zest & Crystallized Ginger Cakes
Adapted from Kitchen Confidante


2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups halved fresh cranberries
zest of one orange
2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper cups. {I made 12 "muffins" but they totally overflowed, so you should do 18-24 cakes!}

2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt.

3. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Incorporate vanilla, egg and buttermilk.

4. Add the flour mixture into the wet mixture and fold in the cranberries, orange zest and crystallized ginger.

5. Fill the muffin tins and bake for 20-30 minutes until the cakes are set {you can test them with a toothpick and make sure the toothpick comes out dry.}

This is what happens when you overfill the muffin form!! UGH. Good thing they still tasted amazing ;)

These cakes were great: a combination of tart cranberries, fresh orange zest and a bit of a bite from the crystallized ginger. They can be served as dessert or eaten for breakfast with a cup of tea or coffee.

I bet they would freeze well too, but after pigging out on them and sharing some with my friend Cindy and her family, I had none to freeze.

Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates!!!


Fun, Delicious & Easy Food Themed Gift: Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Recipe

This year I decided to make fudge for some of my friends. I'm almost ashamed to admit how easy it is to make fudge. The best part? My friends loved it!!

The first batch of the fudge I made was basically chocolate, sweetened condensed milk and walnuts.

For something slightly different, I decided to use peanut butter cups!

Fun, Delicious & Easy Food Themed Gift: Peanut Butter Cup Fudge

3 cups semisweet chocolate chips 
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup quartered peanut butter cups  

1. In a heavy bottomed pot, melt together chocolate chips, condensed milk and a pinch of salt. Take the pot off the heat and stir in vanilla and chopped peanut butter cups.
2. Transfer the mixture into a parchment paper lined 8x8 dish and let it set in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
3. Cut the finished fudge into squares and give out to your friends!

Ta da!

Have you made fudge before? What do you like to add to yours?


Spoon Me! I'm Talking About Decorating Spoons Of Course ;)

Spoon me!!!

In between going dancing, cooking, going to a Speakeasy event at Sixth & I and editing photographs, I managed to get bored this weekend. I could have exercised, or done my laundry, or de-hoarded...but instead I decided to do something crafty: decorate a few wooden utensils. Doesn't everyone do that when they are bored?

I used the blue tape and the green paint I had left over from painting my kitchen, the polyurethane from my sofa table project, and permanent markers.

Basically, I taped off parts of the handles, painted them in green (a few coats!) and let the paint dry before removing the tape. I then used permanent markers to add extra color and put a coat of polyurethane to seal my creation.

Some of the color from the permanent markers bled a bit: maybe I should have waited a day before putting the clear protecting coat.

Don't they look adorable though?

I'm guessing these should not go into the dishwasher, and I would not stir any deep pots with these spoons since I don't know if the polyurethane is food safe. But still, these would brighten up any kitchen, and you can use them when stirfrying or sauteing something in a shallow skillet.


{PS Don't forget to enter for a chance to win AirBake cookie sheets}


Spicy Fat Noodles with Snow Peas

Last week, my friend Cecilia and I went to see Ina Garten at Sixth & I. It was a fabulous evening. See the instagram photo of me Cecilia took below :) I cannot wait to make something from the book!

After the event, we decided to get something to eat and I suggested Chinatown Express. I've eaten at this little restaurant a few years ago and was looking forward to introducing Cecilia to it. We ordered an appetizer of dumplings to share and I decided to get a bowl of the noodle, beef & vegetables soup. It was great!! The noodles were fat and freshly made, the beef was incredibly tender, and I felt good about having huge pieces of bok choy. Even though I slurped all the the liquid and ate all the beef and bok choy, there were still plenty of noodles left in the bowl. Not wanting to waste them, I took them home.

Below is a quick dish I created with the leftover noodles and a few other ingredients I had at home.

Spicy Fat Noodles with Snow Peas
Serves 1

1 teaspoon olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1-2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 cup snow peas, halved
salt to taste
1 cup leftover noodles
Sriracha to taste
1 scallion, sliced 

1. Heat the oil in a skillet. Add garlic and ginger and saute for a minute. Do NOT burn.
2. Add the snow peas, season with salt and saute for 5 minutes.
3. Add the noodles, heat through and add as much or as little of Sriracha as you want.
4. Serve in a bowl topped with scallions.

Have you made something from restaurant leftovers recently? Share your creations!