Perfect Cocktail to celebrate New Year: OMG Cocktail with Sobieski Orange Flavored Vodka

Good morning! It's hard to believe 2013 is almost over. Here's to hoping everything awesome carries over into 2014, and everything not so awesome stays behind.

How are you welcoming in the new year? I'm getting together for dinner with my friend Cecile: there will be good food, sparkling wine and maybe a few movies. I'm not guaranteeing I'll stay up till midnight :)

If you are looking for a festive cocktail to serve tonight or to have for brunch tomorrow, I suggest you make something I created over the weekend: OMG Cocktail with Sobieski Orange Flavored Vodka.

Here's how this cocktail came about: I received a few mini bottles of Sobieski Orange Flavored Vodka to try and thought I should make something more elaborate with it than a screwdriver (vodka + orange juice + ice). Not being a huge drinker, I chose to go with sweeter flavors and beautiful colors.

What does OMG in OMG Cocktail stands for? Orange. Mango. Ginger. Yes! A bit of ginger gives a fun unexpected kick to this cocktail.

OMG Cocktail with Sobieski Orange Flavored Vodka
Ingredients for 2

1/2 mango, peeled, cubed
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger (I used a microplane)
3 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
2 ounces Sobieski Orange Flavored Vodka
4 ounces sparkling water
optional: ice, pomegranate seeds

1. Using a stick blender or a food processor, puree the mango cubes with orange juice and grated ginger.
2. Add vodka.
3. Divide the mixture into two glasses and top with sparkling water.

If you want, you can serve this over ice and topped with pomegranate seeds.

Doesn't this look incredibly festive?

I wish you and your loved ones a very happy 2014 filled with health, love, adventures, great friendships and of course great food.


Cooking from The Lemonade Cookbook: Jackson's Pulled Pork with Barbecue Sauce

If you want to make one meal this weekend that will last you for the majority of the week, then this Jackson's Pulled Pork with Barbecue Sauce recipe from The Lemonade Cookbook is perfect for you.

I received a copy of this cookbook for a review (yay, blog perks!) and marked multiple recipes to try out. The cookbook highlights modern Los Angeles cuisine with great photos, recipes, and tips.

Being a non Kosher Jew, the pulled pork recipe screamed try me, and so I did.

Jackson's Pulled Pork with Barbecue Sauce recipe from The Lemonade Cookbook
for pulled pork
1/4 cup Ancho chili powder
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablspoons ground coriander
1 tablespoons granulated onion (I did not have it, so left it out)
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 4-pound boneless pork butt, cut into 3" chunks
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 quart low-sodium chicken or beef broth

for the barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon dry mustard  

1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the rub.
2. Rub the spice mixture on the pork chunks. If you have time, wrap the pork in plastic and keep in the refrigerator for 4-8 hours or overnight. If you don't have the time, or patience like me, don't bother. The recipe still has a ton of flavor.

3. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil, and then in batches brown the pork.
4. Transfer the pork to a plate and then add the broth to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil. {Note, if you had a lot of fat remaining in the Dutch oven after removing the pork, discard most of it...my pork must have been rather lean.}
5. Put the pork back into the Dutch oven, cover, and then transfer to a 350F preheated oven for 2 hours or until the pork is completely tender.

NOTE: The recipe in the book forgot to tell you the temperature you need to set your oven. I read it 5 times: nothing. So I decided 350 was a good one to use.

6. For the barbecue sauce, heat the oil in a small pot, add the onions and saute them till softened. Add the rest of the ingredients, reduce the heat and simmer for at least 15 minutes.
7. Puree the sauce using a stick blender: the book did not mention it....but why would you want a chunky barbecue sauce?

8. Once the pork is fully cooked, pull it apart with two forks.

I had the pork mixed with the barbecue sauce topped with pickled onions. Soooo flavorful and tender.

This recipe makes a ton of pork, so be ready!

Have a great weekend!!!


Sour Schi aka Sauerkraut Soup: Russian Recipes Revisited

Happy Monday! How is it already almost the end of December and the end of 2013? Time flies.

Did you miss my Russian Recipes Revisited post in November? I actually made a recipe for Plov, a rice dish with carrots and beef, but I used an inexpensive rice which cooked up to be a mushy consistency, which made for horrid photos. So I'm not sharing that one.

But I am sharing a recipe for Sour Schi aka Sauerkraut Soup with you today.

If you have trouble pronouncing borsch, I'm guessing schi will not be any easier. Lucky for you, both soups are easy to make and delicious.

Schi is a Russian cabbage soup with carrots, onions and potatoes. Sour schi (kisliie schi) is a soup made with sauerkraut. Most Russian families use sauerkraut they make themselves, which is different than the sauerkraut you buy at a store, but I went the easy route ;)

Most of the recipes for this soup that I saw on line started with beef or pork, but I decided to make mine without....until I changed my mind at the end. That's just how I roll ;)

Sour Schi aka Sauerkraut Soup
Serves 4-6

1 large Russet potato, peeled, cut into large cubes
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
salt & pepper
32 ounces sauerkraut (I used Boar's Head)
32 ounces low fat and low sodium beef broth (or use vegetable or chicken broth)
2 bay leaves
optional: fresh dill, pulled pork

1. In a large soup pot, cover the potatoes with water and cook for about 10 minutes. You don't want potatoes to be completely cooked through.
2. In a skillet, heat the olive oil, add onions and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Saute the vegetables for 15 minutes. You want to sweat the vegetables instead of making them brown.
3. Rinse and drain the sauerkraut and add to the carrot/onion mixture and saute for 10 more minutes. 

4. Add the vegetables to the soup pot with the water and potatoes. Pour in the beef broth and add two bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Make sure the potatoes are cooked through.

This is quite a thick soup. If you want yours to be thinner, add more liquid.

Serve topped with dill.

And here's where the pork came in: I had some leftover pulled pork (I'll share the recipe later this week), and decided to also add it to the soup: delicious!!

If you are not a fan of sour flavors, don't make this soup :)


Dinner at Masa 14 in DC

Happy Friday!!! I'm really looking forward to a low key weekend. What about you?

Do you need a recommendation for a fun dinner place in DC? If you do, this post is for you.

Recently I was invited to dine at Masa 14 and took my friend Evi along for the ride. Just to be clear, the dinner was on the house and we just left a tip. I'm not saying you will get the exact same amazing service with the chef and the managers coming over to say hello and to make sure everything is top notch, but I'm pretty sure you will have a lovely time and enjoy the food.

Ok, now that I got that out of the way, let's chat about Masa 14. I've been to Masa 14 a few times for happy hour and loved their wings and mojitos, but this was my first time dining there. A few notes on the restaurant:

"Masa 14 features a menu of Latin-Asian small plates, designed for sharing and sampling by acclaimed Chefs Richard Sandoval and Kaz Okochi.

Pair your plates with selections from Masa’s signature handcrafted cocktails, wines & beers. Salud!"

The restaurant has recently welcomed Eric McKamey who brings 13 years of experience including well known restaurants such as The Oval Room, Proof, Central Michel Richard, CityZen, Palena and 2941.

Evi and I ordered a bunch of dishes to share from the menu that covers temaki & chirashi, flatbreads, wok dishes, dishes from the grill, salads and ceviche, dim sum, and vegetables.

Below are some of my favorites from the night.

I started with a mojito (Salud!) and a spicy tuna temaki while Evi chose a yuzu shrimp temaki. Temaki are basically sushi rolls made into cones. The portions were large enough to share, but we stuck to our own, because how do you divide up a cone? With the first bite, my seafood craving was satisfied.

The seafood theme continued with the chimichurri grilled baby octopus (photo below), crunchy shrimp and wok-fried calamari. All of the dishes had strong flavors, but did not weigh us down. They were perfectly portioned to share for 2-3 people and left you wanting to come back.

One of my favorite dishes of the night was definitely a Thai pumpkin soup with lobster, achiote butter, coconut milk and pepitas. In fact, I might just contact the chef and ask for a recipe! The soup had a great sour note and was beautiful and warm: great for a winter night.

Then it was time for another cocktail: I decided to try the strawberry lemonade recommended to me and was not disappointed: Masa 14 makes their own lemonade and strawberry puree, which makes the drink fresh and scream SUMMER!

We also liked the pork belly steamed buns with achiote, piinapple sambal, cilantro and Serrano chili, but unfortunately they did not photograph well.

I wasn't in love with my dulce de leche dessert, which was just as well: otherwise I might have not been able to go salsa dancing afterwards. Evi, however, loved her choice of blueberry poppy seed cake with green tea ice cream and pineapple confit.

I can't wait to go back and try Masa 14's all you can eat and drink brunch next!!!

Happy weekend everyone.


No More Boring Meatballs: Apricot & Curry Meatballs with Rice Salad Inspired by Washington Post

Do you love meatballs but are tired of the same recipe you've been using for years? Well, then you are going to love my recipe for Apricot & Curry Meatballs with Rice Salad.

A while back I saw a recipe for Apricot-Studded Meatballs With Lemony Couscous on Washington Post and printed it out for a rainy day. Rainy day, in this case, was the day when I had very little inspiration to cook, but wanted something slightly different and delicious. I changed a few ingredients and directions in the recipe and decided to make a cold rice salad instead of lemony couscous.

 Apricot & Curry Meatballs with Rice Salad

for the meatballs
1 pound ground beef
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 egg
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
olive oil for sautéing

for the rice salad
3 cups cooked rice
1/4 cups sliced black olives
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tomato, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cups feta
olive oil
salt & pepper

1. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs (other than the olive oil). {Isn't this a super pretty Pyrex bowl!????}

2. Form the meatballs and sauté them in olive oil in a skillet. You may want to do this step in batches. Cut into one of the meatballs to make sure it's cooked through.

3. Combine all the ingredients for the rice salad.

That's all it takes: incredibly easy!!! The salad is great if you have leftover rice. You can also use pasta if you like.

This recipe is full of vegetables and is visually appealing as well as really flavorful. I served the meatballs hot with the cold rice salad and liked the combination. It also keeps great for a few days.

What do you put into YOUR meatballs?


Perfect Meatless Monday Meal: Cappellacci Pasta with Broccoli Rabe & Meyer Lemon Juice

I love carbohydrates. Bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, give it all to me!! When I was shopping at Home Goods earlier this month, I saw a bag of pretty Cappellacci shaped pasta and decided to pick it up. Paired with broccoli rabe, Meyer lemon from Limoneira and a few other simple ingredients, this is a perfectly beautiful and delicious dish for Meatless Monday or any day of the week.

Cappellacci Pasta with Broccoli Rabe & Meyer Lemon Juice

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bunch broccoli rabe, chopped
juice of 1 large Meyer lemon
good sprinkle of salt
good sprinkle of red pepper flakes
1/2 pound cooked Cappellacci pasta (or use any shape you like)

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and saute for a few minutes.
2. Add broccoli rabe and saute until it wilts on medium heat: be careful not to burn the garlic.
3. Add Meyer lemon juice and season with salt and red pepper flakes.
4. Add cooked pasta and mixed all ingredients together.
5. Check for seasoning and serve with a drizzle of olive oil.

This is great for lunch or dinner and keeps well as leftovers: you can even add a fried or poached egg on top and a bit of grated cheese.

What pasta dishes have you cooked lately?


Fat Free Dessert: Triple Citrus Sorbet & Limoneira

Last Friday was a gloomy rainy gross day, but I got a bit of sunshine courtesy of Limoneira. Limoneira sent me a box filled with their gorgeous lemons and Meyer lemons!!! I'm one lucky girl.

We are an agribusiness and real estate development company founded and based in Santa Paula, California, committed to responsibly using and managing our nearly 10,000 acres of land, water resources and other assets to maximize long-term stockholder value. We are one of California’s oldest citrus growers. We are one of the largest growers of lemons in the United States and the largest grower of avocados in the United States. In addition to growing lemons and avocados, we grow oranges and a variety of other specialty citrus and other crops. We have agricultural plantings throughout Ventura and Tulare Counties in California, which plantings consist of approximately 3,010 acres of lemons, 1,169 acres of avocados, 1,654 acres of oranges and 923 acres of specialty citrus and other crops. We also operate our own packinghouse in Santa Paula, California, where we process and pack lemons that we grow as well as lemons grown by others.

These lemons and Meyer lemons are larger and brighter than the ones you find at the store and smell incredible. The Meyer lemons have a softer thinner skin and an almost flowery sweet taste to them.

I was trying to think of a recipe to make with these beautiful citrus that would not require baking or loads of butter. That's when my friends Sylvie and K suggested I make sorbet. I have smart friends!

I decided to use Emeril Lagasses's Lemon Sorbet as a template and put my own stamp on his recipe.

Triple Citrus Sorbet

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2/3 cups Meyer lemon juice
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon citrus zest (use combination of all 3)   


1. In a small pan combine water and sugar and bring to a boil. Turn the heat off and allow to cool.
2. Add the simple syrup (that's what that water and sugar made!) to the citrus juice and zest and pour into your ice cream maker. Follow the manufacturer's directions.

Store the sorbet in the freezer until ready to serve.

I served the sorbet in the empty Meyer lemon skins: adorable, yes?

This is such a wonderful and light and pretty dessert!! Thank you so much Limoneira for sending me your beautiful lemons and Meyer lemons.

Disclosure: Limoneira sent me a box of their citrus. I was under no obligation to blog about them and was not compensated in any way for this post. All opinions are my own. As always.


Perfect Holiday Ice Cream: Cranberry Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate

Do you eat ice cream in the winter? Why not?

Recently, I realized that I didn't used my ice cream maker a single time this summer: what a horrific realization. But don't worry: all that changed after I saw a recipe for Cranberry Ice Cream from Wonky Wonderful, which was profiled on TheKitchn.

Here's what I liked about the recipe:
1) It did not require making a custard.
2) The color of the ice cream is GORGEOUS.
3) It's a perfectly seasonal ice cream without having pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon (all the flavors that I do not like).
4) It was easy enough to incorporate chopped dark chocolate to make the ice cream more to my liking.

You basically start with fresh cranberries, which you then turn into a cranberry sauce by cooking them with a bit of water and salt.

After cooling down the sauce you add it to a blender with orange juice. Then you are supposed to cool it down and add to a milk, sugar and heavy cream mixture.

I cheated and blended all the ingredients together:

I also tried to cheat and not chill the mixture before adding it to my ice cream maker. That did not work at all.
Lesson: do NOT cheat.
Once the mixture was properly chilled and churned in the ice cream maker, I added a chopped bar of 85% cacao chocolate (aka dark chocolate....aka the only chocolate I like).
Here's what it looked like:

I then transferred the ice cream to a plastic container and put it in my freezer for a few hours before scooping it.

I'm a huge fan of this recipe. And I think it would work equally well with other purees (think peach, nectarine, mango, etc).

What's your favorite winter ice cream flavor?


Liren's Rugelach: Add this recipe to your cookie list!

Today I'd like to share with you a zillion photos of rugelach cookies. This is not the first time I've made rugelach but this is the first time I've made a recipe by my friend Liren. When I saw Liren's post about rugelach, I pinned it and decided to make it and bring it to my Thanksgiving hosts. 

Liren's recipe is incredibly easy and comes together really well. I made a few changes to the filling, but otherwise followed her recipe and that's why I'm not retyping it. Go to her blog and check it out. You'll find gorgeous photos there too!

For the first type of rugelach I used dried apricots, walnuts and sugar as the filling. I also chose to add sugar in the raw on top of the rolled rugelach: it added a great color and crunch and a bit of extra sweetness.

For the second type, I used sour cherries instead of apricots.

And for the third, I used Nutella and walnuts. This particular one I decided to roll as a log instead of the more traditional shape.

These were really delicious. I had to share them with a few extra friends to keep myself from eating too many and then froze the rest, which worked really well.

Do you like my  new bowls? I got them on sale at Anthropologie ;)

Have you made rugelach before? What's your favorite filling?