Eating out with Instagram: DGS Delicatessen, Birch & Barley, Pupatella and Zengo

I decided to start a new series of posts which I will call Eating out with Instagrams. It'll just be a collection of my instagram photos documenting my adventures in eating out.

This is the first such post!

Above is a photo I took at DGS Delicatessen: my friend Pankti and I had brunch there in the beginning of January. Although I thought lunch at DGS was good, but overpriced, I absolutely LOVED their brunch! I had a white fish salad on a bagel and a side of patatas bravas a la Judea (served with sour cream and harissa). The white fish salad was served with tomato jam, fried capers and butter lettuce.

Pankti had their Challah French Toast. There were barely any leftovers: both dishes were that good. We also really liked DGS's Le Marais: Champagne, St Germain, orange juice and Peychaud's bitters!

The photo below is a dessert menu from Birch & Barley. I've been to this restaurant for brunch and dinner, but have never popped in just for dessert. That's exactly what happened when Cecilia and I took a wrong turn on the way to finding a Metro station! I've always admitted to having poor sense of direction. My favorite dessert on the menu was the Figgy Toffee Pudding!!! It was warm, dense, sweet, and so FIGGY!!! Extra special Thank You to Tiffany MacIsaac, Executive Pastry Chef, for also sending out a few extra desserts for me and Cecilia to try on the house!

The next set of photos is from dinner at Pupatella. This was my first time at this Arlington Neapolitan Pizzeria and Friggitoria, and it will definitely not be the last! I loved the friendly but hectic atmosphere, the open kitchen, the pizza oven, the fun hats the guys making the pizza were wearing, and then there was the FOOD.

Since I was dining with Sylvie and Jason, we got a bunch of food to share! That's just how it goes ;)

For the appetizers, we had a burrata platter with homemade toasted bread and prosciutto. This could have been a meal in itself. But that would not do ;) We also shared an Arancini Sampler.

The photo of the pizzas did not turn out great, but these are the ones we had:
EGGPLANT & RED PEPPER:  Grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers, provola (fresh smoked mozzarella)
CHORIZO:  Spicy Spanish chorizo, thinly-shaved red onion, roasted red pepper and fresh mozzarella
BURRATA PIZZA: No sauce, burrata (extra creamy buffalo mozzarella), cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, basil

I can't really choose a favorite: each had it's own winning qualities! You will just have to try them for yourself.

The only disappointment was that Pupatella ran out of Nutella doughnuts by the time I decided to order one.

The final meal I'll mention is dinner I had at Zengo with Julia. I was invited to sample a new menu in Zengo for its Test Kitchen concept. The new menu running from January 10th through March 31st combines the flavors of Argentina and Philippines. {Disclosure: I was treated to this meal, but opinions are my own!}

My favorites were the Guava Mate cocktail (gin, guava, yerba mate and lime), Oxtail Humitas with Argentinian tamal, peanut sauce, tamarind and coconut milk, and Tagolog Style Churrasco Steak with calamansi citrus-soy marinade, grilled onion, lemongrass mojo, green herb chimichurri and sweet potato tostones.

Unfortunately the Dulce de Leche Brazo Mercedes with lemongrass scented granite and green mango ceviche for dessert did not wow me. Fortunately, I had some dark chocolate waiting for me at home.

I hope you have enjoyed the first Eating out with Instagram post! There will be more to come.

Where have you been eating out lately?


Nigella Lawson's Clementine Almond Cake: Flourless Cake Recipe

A few weeks ago I saw a tweet by Alejandra, aka @nandita, mentioning a Clementine Flourless Cake by Nigella Lawson. I knew that I would HAVE to make the cake that very weekend. First, I ♥ Nigella. Second, clementines happened to be on sale at my grocery store. Third, it'd be a perfect excuse to have friends over for dinner.

Because the recipe is incredibly easy and I made it exactly as written, I will not retype it. Instead, I'll just summarize it for you.

Clementine Almond Cake

You basically boil 5 clementines in water for two hours. Yes, it sounds like a long time, but use that time to clean, catch up on your favorite TV shows or nap.

After two hours, take the clementines out of the pot and let them cool. Do NOT try the remaining liquid. It is incredibly bitter: I'm speaking from the experience. 

In a food processor, puree the clementines. Yes, with skin and everything!

Add eggs, ground almonds, sugar and baking powder. Pour into a spring form pan and bake in the oven.

Let the cake cool, remove from the baking pan and serve topped with powdered sugar or blood orange sorbet, or just as is.

This was such an easy dessert to make! For someone who loves chocolate, I was surprised how much I really liked this citrus cake. It was moist and dense and smelled like sunshine!

Tell me about dessert you have made lately!


New Kitchen & Dining Room Things!!

There is no recipe today. Just a bunch of pictures of the new things in my dining room and kitchen. Hope you are okay with that.

I've been living in my condo for a bit over two years and I have FINALLY found, purchased and received my dining room set. It took me that long to find something I really liked.

The table is from West Elm and the chairs are from Crate & Barrel. I love that they are bright and called PERSIMMON :) Have I mentioned my obsession with persimmons lately!?

I've already hosted my first dinner party, and loved having people over to check out my new furniture. The table fits the space so much better than my old round dining room table, which went to my coworker's home!

A few weeks ago I was at the National Art Gallery and stopped at their gift store and found these GORGEOUS persimmon stone coasters. So I splurged and bought six of them. ♥

Here are three beautiful bowls my friend Sangeetha gave me! They are perfect for so many things!

This is a little craft project I did: I took an empty metal can of Nudo's Extra Virgin Olive Oil and super glued a few magnets on the back: perfect little container for holding pens. It's now attached to my refrigerator.

And finally, I bought a new yellow microplane! I've had a black one for years and loved it, but the yellow one is just so cute and adds a punch of color to my kitchen! My friend Nicole is getting my old black one.

Have you added anything fun to your kitchen or dining room lately?


Persimmon, Brie & Arugula Panini: Persimmon Obsession

You guys! My persimmon obsession continues...in fact, my friend Cindy suggested I rename this blog to Persimmon Tomato!!! No worries, this will not happen.

Here, however, are some of my earlier persimmon recipes: Persimmon & Yogurt Parfait, Lemony Persimmon Muffins, Tomato & Persimmon Salsa, and Scallop & Persimmon Salad.

This "recipe" for Persimmon, Brie & Arugula Panini is incredibly easy, but has a few very strong flavors that work together almost magically!

Persimmon, Brie & Arugula Panini


Honey bread with sunflower seeds {I just happened to have it on hand: you can use whichever bread you like}
ripe persimmon, sliced
brie, sliced
olive oil

1. Preheat your panini grill.
2. Assemble the panini: bread, brie, persimmon, arugula, brie, bread.
3. Lightly oil your panini maker and place the sandwich inside. Leave the sandwich in a panini maker for about 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the bread gets pretty grilled marks!

And before I let y'all go, I am going to give you a sneak peek into an upcoming post: new dining room table, Persimmon chairs and persimmon coasters ;)

What one food ingredient are YOU obsessed with?


Perfect Weekend Breakfast: Spam, Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Hash with a Poached Egg

I love food. Sometimes it's the intricately made sushi rolls, while other times it's slowly braised lamb shanks with tomatoes and tender white beans on a bed of creamy polenta. Last night for dinner I had a bowl of home made guacamole with home made tortilla chips. My point is that my love for food covers quite a large range of cuisines and levels of fanciness.

So then it should come as no shock that I have ZERO shame in occasionally wanting to eat Spam. I wrote about my cravings for Spam in this post for Spam & Egg Breakfast Sandwich and also in this post about Home Fries and Spam. Both posts received comments basically saying how Spam brings back memories of war and poor childhoods and that most people would not eat it.

Fine. Don't. I'm not here to force you to eat anything you don't like. But this Spam, Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Hash with a Poached Egg breakfast I made last weekend was really good, and I hope you do make it. If you are completely against Spam, just use ham.

Spam, Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Hash with a Poached Egg

Ingredients (for 1 serving)
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup diced white onion
1/4-1/3 cups peeled diced sweet potato
1/2 charred and diced jalapeno pepper
1/4 cup diced Spam
1/2 red pepper, diced
salt & pepper to taste
1 poached egg
2 slices toasted bread

Please note that everything, other than the charred jalapeno, is uniformally diced. What can I say....I do teach knife skills classes ;)


1. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add olive oil and allow to heat. Add onions and sweet potatoes and saute for about 7 minutes.

2. Add charred jalapeno, Spam and red peppers. Season with salt & pepper and cook on medium heat until potatoes are cooked through and all the other ingredients have turned a lovely golden brown color. It helps if your ingredients are in one layer in the skillet.

3. Since this is breakfast for one, serve it to yourself directly in a skillet (just to make sure to place it on a thick cutting board so you don't damage your table or your knees if you will eat this on your lap) topped with a poached egg and with a side of toasted bread.

Will you give Spam a try???

Have a wonderful weekend!


Lamb & Clams: Charleston Wine & Food Festival

You guys! This is the last recipe challenge in the Charleston Wine & Food Festival recipe contest!

For this challenge I received ground lamb from Border Springs Farm and clams from Rappahannock River Oysters.

I knew exactly what I was going to make!! Here's why: a few months ago, Cecilia and I visited the Union Market for the first time and ate at the Rappahannock Oysters Co.

While I had fresh oysters, more oysters and some bubbly, Cecilia tried a dish called lambs & clams. Not only did the dish look and smell great, but it also was delicious and was an amazing value for $14.

As far as I remember, the Rappahannock Oysters Co's Lambs & Clams had ground lamb in a spicy tomato sauce, white beans, clams, a bit of aioli on top and grilled slices of bread. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get the recipe for the dish, but how hard could it be to recreate?

This past Sunday, when I was planning to make the dish, was a horrendously grey and misty day. I really tried to get my arse from the couch and go grocery shopping, but I just could not do it. So I had to improvise: instead of white beans I used chickpeas and instead of tomatoes I made a sauce from red peppers and chili in adobo. If I say so myself, I think my version of Lambs & Clams turned out pretty successful!

Lamb & Clams

Serves 4

2 red bell peppers
1 chili in adobo
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large white onion, peeled and diced
1 pound ground lamb
1 tablespoon aleppo pepper
15.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained
16 clams

to serve
slices of bread, grilled and rubbed with garlic
lemon wedges
chopped dill
mayonnaise thinned with a bit of lemon juice and mixed with chopped dill


1. Char the bell peppers directly on the gas. Once their skin is black all over, put the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. After about ten minutes, remove the skin and discard the seeds and membranes.

2. In a food processor, puree the red bell peppers and the chili in adobo. Set aside.

3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and add the diced onions. Saute for 10 minutes.

4. Add the ground lamb, salt and aleppo pepper and cook until the lamb is no longer pink.

5. Add the pepper/chili sauce and the chickpeas and simmer for 5 minutes.

6. Add the clams, cover and simmer until the clams have opened. Discard any of the clams that remained closed.

7. Serve the lamb on a bed of arugula and garnish with dill, a bit of lemony mayonnaise and grilled bread.

If you have leftover lamb and chickpea mixture, serve it the next day with pasta!

To check out what my competitors made, go visit their blogs {recipes will be posted on Wednesday}.

Peter @ A Cook Blog Lynda @ Taste Food Blog 
David @ eat drink RI
Gwen @ Bunkycooks
Heather @ Farmgirl Gourmet
Cecilia @ One Vanilla Bean
Vivek @ Vivek’s Epicurean Adventure


Two-Potato Vindaloo Recipe: Cooking from Plenty

A few months ago, my friend Julia asked if I'd like to take a cooking class at Sur La Table to learn how to make a few recipes from the Plenty cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi. After my twin said that's a silly idea, Julia suggested we just buy the book ourselves and have a dinner party recreating some of the recipes!

I very rarely buy cookbooks: many of the ones I have, I've received as preview copies because of the blog. The cookbooks that I do buy, are the ones from the Q&A events with cookbook authors I have attended (Domenica Marchetti, Ina Garten, Bobby Flay (♥)).

Instead of purchasing Plenty, I asked my friend Mary if I could borrow her copy, and she said yes, but then SURPRISED me and ordered the book as a present for me!!! LOVE my friends.

The book is gorgeous, and I love that the cover is cushy. It's all about the details, right? Not only did Mary gave me the book, but she also gave me some of the spices to make Two-Potato Vindaloo.

I could not find the curry leaves, so simply left them out. I also added a bit more sugar to the recipe. This recipe makes a ton, especially if you live by yourself, so keep that in mind.

Two-Potato Vindaloo
From Plenty Cookbook

{I copied the recipe from The Guardian because I did not feel like retyping it, but changed some of the measurements from metric to American :) }

1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
8 cardamom pods
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large shallots (about 10 oz total)
½ tsp brown mustard seeds
½ tsp fenugreek
25 curry leaves
2 tbsp chopped ginger
1 red chilli, finely chopped
3 ripe tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 3/4 cups water
1 tbsp sugar
2 1/2 cups waxy potato, peeled and cut into 1" dice
2 small red peppers, cored and cut into 1" dice
2 1/2 cups sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1" dice
Mint or cilantro leaves to serve


1. Dry-roast the cumin, coriander and cardamom in a small frying pan until they begin to pop. Transfer to a mortar, add the cloves and work with a pestle to a fine powder, discarding the cardamom skins once the seeds are released. Add the turmeric, paprika and cinnamon, and set aside. {I just used a spice grinder!!}

2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pot. Add the shallots, mustard seeds and fenugreek, and sauté on high heat for eight minutes, or until the shallots brown. Stir in the curry leaves, ginger, chilli and ground spices, and cook for another three minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, water, sugar and some salt, bring to a boil and leave to simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add the potatoes and peppers, and simmer for another 20 minutes. Now add the sweet potatoes, make sure all the vegetables are just immersed in the sauce (add more water if needed) and continue cooking, covered, for about 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Remove the lid and leave to bubble away for about 10 minutes, to reduce and thicken the sauce.
Serve hot with plain rice and garnished with the herb leaves.

You can serve this with rice or eat on its own or with bread. The flavors are strong and you get an incredible amount of nutrients in a bowl.

I can't wait to make more recipes from the book!!!

Have you made any of the recipes from Plenty? Which ones are your favorite?


Ezhiki aka "Hedgehogs" Meatballs with Rice: Russian Recipes Revisited

Last month's recipe for Sour Cream Cake was quite involved, so for this month's Russian Recipes Revisited series I decided to make something simpler and also savory.

Growing up in Russia, we had ground beef often. My mom made "fancy" meatloaf by putting hard boiled eggs inside so that when you cut into the meatloaf, you would get a pretty yellow and white center.

Instead of burgers, we had "kotleti," which were a bit smaller and thinner and served without a bun and with a side of rice and mashed potatoes.

And instead of meatballs, we had "ezhiki," which in Russian means little hedgehogs. These were little balls made from ground beef with onions and rice! The grains of rice resembled the needles of the hedgehogs...or so we thought when we were little. By we I of course mean my sister and brother.

In the recipe below I decided to use ground chicken instead of beef, but you can use whichever you want. Go nuts and use pork if you wish!

Ezhiki aka "Hedgehogs" Meatballs with Rice
Makes about 40 balls

1 cup long grained rice
1 cup water
1 pound ground chicken
1 egg
1/3 cup finely chopped white onion
salt & pepper
olive oil for sauteing

1. In a small saucepan combine rice, water and a bit of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and cool the rice. You want the rice to be undercooked because it will continue to cook inside the balls ;)

2. In a bowl mix together the rest of the ingredients other than olive oil. Add the cooled rice and mix to combine.

3. Using a small scoop (about 1 tablespoon) form the balls.

4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and saute the balls until they are brown all around. Cut into one to make sure it's cooked through. You may need to do this in batches. 

{Thank you Sangeetha for the super pretty bowl!}

You can eat these ezhiki with sauteed green beans, mashed potatoes, asparagus or even on top of a salad. You can also add them to soups!

For this soup I sauteed onions, garlic and carrots. I then added tomato paste and cooked the vegetables for a few minutes followed by water, salt & pepper and Southwestern spice. Once everything came to a boil, I added cubed potatoes and simmered the soup until the potatoes were cooked through. Then I added the meatballs and fresh parsley.

Does YOUR family have a special meatball recipe?

For previous recipes in the Russian Recipes Revisited series, check out Shuba (beet & herring salad) and Borsch.

And if you want a few more meatballs recipes, take a look at Spicy Turkey Meatballs and Albondigas.