Best Burger in DC: Brunch at Duke's Grocery

It's almost 2015!!! Many people are writing "the best of" lists" which I wasn't planning on doing until I had brunch at Duke's Grocery with my friend Mary and her adorable 3 year old daughter this past Sunday and discovered THE BEST BURGER I've had in a very long time!! So I had to share with you. 

Duke's Grocery is "a neighborhood pub and supper spot located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The idea is simple: create a fun spot that our friends (you!) can come in anytime and have a fulfilling meal, a tasty drink and great time in an atmosphere that is unpretentious and laid back. Tuck in, drink up and enjoy!"

Our waiter recommended we get a Full English Brekkie which you can see below. It had toast, beans, eggs, sausage, tomatoes, arugula and blood sausage. It was a spectacular dish, but the winning order was the burger (scroll down).

What a beauty!!! And trust me, the taste was way better than the looks. This brunch burger included Gouda, house dill pickles, two perfectly medium rare cooked beef patties, grilled onion, garlic mayonnaise, rocket (aka arugula) and house made chili sauce. Mary and I split the burger down the middle and devoured it in minutes. Apparently some people add fried egg or avocado, but I can't imagine fitting those in my mouth. More importantly, those would not even be necessary: the burger was so good as is.

I'll definitely be back! Plus, props to our waiter for being patient and accommodating.


Can You Roast A Spaghetti Squash Whole? Yes You Can!

When life gives you a ginormous spaghetti squash what do you do?

Well, in my case I wait a few weeks trying to figure out what to do with it while hoping it doesn't rot on my counter.

The spaghetti squash you see above came in one of my Washington's Green Grocer deliveries (which I pay for: this is not a sponsored post or anything) and I was planning on using a new cooking method my friend Cecilia told me about in which you roast the spaghetti squash in a baking dish with a bit of water while covering the entire concoction with aluminum foil.

Well....when it came time to try Cecilia's method, I got scared: I could barely cut into the squash because it was so HUGE. I did not want to lose any of my fingers or majorly cut my hand. Instead, I decided to try something new (at least to me!): roasting the entire spaghetti squash whole.  After all, people have done this with cauliflower...what's the worse thing that can happen?

Can You Roast A Spaghetti Squash Whole? Yes You Can!
1) Preheat the oven to 425
2) Put whole spaghetti squash directly on the oven rack and roast for about an hour, rotating it every 20 minutes or so
3) Allow the spaghetti squash to cool slightly, then cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and use the flesh to make Spaghetti Squash Latkes


Union Square Greenmarket in New York City

This past weekend I took Amtrak to New York City to visit my good friend Jenny. We ate out, dined in, did a bit of shopping, chatted, watched HGTV and a few movies and caught up after not seeing each other for two years.

On Saturday while Jenny was getting a haircut I strolled around Union Square Greenmarket. It was a gorgeous winter day and I took a few photos to share with you!

Happy Friday! Have a wonderful weekend.

These are black soy beans!

Bundled up ;)


What To Make With Spaghetti Squash: Spaghetti Squash Latkes For Hanukkah

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. To everyone celebrating, Happy Hanukkah! I wish small and large miracles to every one of you (and to my friends and family and to myself of course;))

Last night I went grocery shopping after work and made latkes using a Russet potato, eggs, onion, salt and pepper. They were crispy and delicious topped them with sour cream and horseradish.

For something a little bit different, I thought I'd share with you a recipe I made last week using a part of a giant roasted spaghetti squash. These spaghetti squash latkes came out incredibly delicate. If you want something a bit more sturdy, add an extra egg and more panko crumbs or flour.

What To Make With Spaghetti Squash: Spaghetti Squash Latkes For Hanukkah
Makes 8

2 cups roasted spaghetti squash
1 egg
1/4 cups panko crumbs
1/4 red onion, grated
1 teaspoon paprika
vegetable oil for frying
for the sauce
lime juice

1. In a bowl combine spaghetti squash, egg, salt & pepper, panko crumbs, grated onion and paprika.
2. Heat vegetable oil (enough to cover the bottom of a skillet) and carefully drop mounds of the spaghetti squash mixture, flattening them with a spatula. Cook spaghetti squash latkes for 3-5 minutes on each side being extremely careful when flipping them over.
3. Make the sauce by thinning mayonnaise with fresh lime juice and adding a bit of paprika for color and taste.
4. Serve latkes topped with the mayonnaise sauce.

Special thank you to my friend Cindy for the gorgeous menorah she gave me years ago and to my friend Laetitia for a fun card ;)

What kinds of latkes are you making this week?

A few extra ideas:


Where To Eat In Salt Lake City: Taste of Red Iguana

As I'm getting ready for a four day weekend trip to New York City to visit my good friend Jenny and her boyfriend Chris, I am reminiscing about an amazing meal I had at Red Iguana with Rachael during my trip to Utah for Thanksgiving.

I loved how bright and inviting both the outside and the inside of the restaurant were. Plus, we had the most patient and kind waitress...let's just say it took a while for Rachael and me to decide what to order.

Luckily, Rachael's sister in law told us that we can order a sampler of moles! Not only were the moles served on a little plate and looked like a flower, the sample was free!

My least favorite moles were the ones with bananas! I've never heard of using bananas in moles (it's one of my least favorite fruits), but I can see how it makes the texture of the mole rich and smooth.

My favorite ones were the following:


Golden raisins, yellow tomatoes, yellow zucchini, guajillo, aji and habanero chiles makes this mole a fiery favorite


Fresh chile poblano, jalapeno, blended with pepitas, sesame seeds, basil, onions, lettuce, zucchini, and avocadsos
A pumpkin seed sauce made with dried chile guajillo, peanuts, pepitas, onions, and tomatoes

We decided to share two dishes (plus house made guacamole!).

To share: fish tacos and two kinds of mole in one dish. I love when restaurants allow you to be flexible and mix and match a few flavors together.

You could almost feel the love in the food: it was definitely not mass produced. The flavors were fresh, rich, and we were tempted to lick our plates. Did we? I will never tell ;)

I so wish Red Iguana would open a location in DC!! Pretty please!!!!

What has been your latest favorite eating out experience during your travels?


Roasted Parsnip Salad with Apples & Kale Chips For Meatless Monday

Happy Tuesday! I'm a day late in posting this Roasted Parsnip Salad with Apples & Kale Chips For Meatless Monday, but I can guarantee you'll like this salad any day of the week!

I had some random ingredients in my refrigerator that needed to be either cooked or tossed and decided to cook them.

The main ingredient in question: parsnips. You can roast them and turn them into a soup or boil them and turn them into a mash. This time I decided to roast them with olive oil and salt.

But then what?!

I also had some kale that has seen better days and thought that since I was already heating up the oven, I could roast the kale too.

Then came the fresh sweet apple, red onion and a mustard dressing. SALAD!

Roasted Parsnip Salad with Apples & Kale Chips For Meatless Monday


3 large parsnips, peeled and cut into segments
olive oil
1 bunch kale {make sure it's completely dry}
1 apple, cored and sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
for the dressing
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon grain mustard
drizzle of honey
salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Coat parsnips in olive oil and season with salt and roast for 40 minutes, tossing occasionally.
3. Remove the stems from the kale leaves, tear the leaves into large chunks and lightly coat with olive oil. Roast in a single layer for 25 minutes, tossing occasionally.
4. Whisk together ingredients for the dressing.

To make the salad: arrange roasted parsnips on a plate. Top with apples and onions and drizzle with the dressing. Top with kale chips {if you haven't eaten all of them by this point!}.

I absolutely loved the combination of colors, textures and flavors in this salad. It's such a perfect winter time dish and can be served as an appetizer or a main course if you pair it with a juicy steak!

What do you do with parsnips?


Dorie Greenspan's Rugelach With My Raspberry Ginger Jam & Dark Chocolate

Last month I shared with you a recipe for Raspberry & Ginger Jam With Orange Zest & Bourbon. As a little reminder, I was challenged by Driscoll's Berries to incorporate their raspberries into a rugelach recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi cookbook. I was provided with a free copy of the book, a few coupons for raspberries and a gift card to use for the ingredients. I was otherwise not compensated for this project and as always all opinions are my own.
I used the dough recipe from Dorie's book exactly as it was written in the book and then for the filling used my Raspberry & Ginger Jam with Orange Zest and chopped dark chocolate.

The dough worked like a dream, but there was a slight issue with my filling....see photos below.

Dorie Greenspan's Rugelach With My Raspberry Ginger Jam & Dark Chocolate

Dorie Greenspan's Rugelach With My Raspberry Ginger Jam & Dark Chocolate
{To save the time, I copied the ingredients/directions from the nifty foodie}

for the dough
4 oz. cold cream cheese
1 stick (8 tbsp.) cold, unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1 large egg (for glazing dough)
sanding or granulated sugar, for dusting

  1. Remove the cream cheese and butter from the refrigerator 10 minutes before you’re ready to make the dough and cut each into 4 equal pieces. This will allow them to slightly soften, but still be cold.
  2. After the 10 minutes, place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and scatter the pieces of butter and cream cheese over the flour/salt. Pulse the mixture 6-10 times, until flour coats the cream cheese and butter. Then, process the mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl ever so often, until large curds form in the dough (before it processes into a ball of dough).
  3. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface, mold it into a ball, and divide the dough in half. Then, shape each dough half into a square and wrap the squares in plastic film or wax paper. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours (or up to a day).

I had to make the dough twice because I failed to read the directions properly and my dough turned into a ball (instead of being the texture of large curds). I froze the failed dough to use later and made another batch properly this time around.

I rolled the dough and spread it with jam and chopped dark chocolate, rolled it, and placed it in the freezer before brushing the roll with an egg wash and sprinkling it with raw sugar, and then cutting it into individual pieces and baking.

And then THIS happened: it looks like the chocolate completely oozed out!!! I will not lie: I had a mild panic attack, but then lifted the rugelach from the puddles and carried on ;)

How cute are these??? They are definitely a one bite cookie and are delicious. The dough was flaky and light and I loved the crunch of the raw sugar on top. The filling was not too sweet. Next time I'll try to use mini chocolate chips: according to many of my followers, they will not melt as fast as the chopped chocolate.

I'm planning on baking a few of these rugelach straight from the freezer this weekend!


If Hash Browns & Fried Rice Had A Baby...

A few weekends ago I was going to make breakfast, but wasn't sure what I wanted exactly. I had a few random potatoes, some eggs and a few other ingredients. At first I thought I'd make an omelet. But then I decided to do something a bit more exciting.

You see, I LOVE fried rice. I also love potatoes. Potatoes, in fact, may be my favorite starch. What I ended up creating is a mix between hash browns and fried rice. I realize the dish doesn't look SUPER appetizing, but trust me: the flavor is great!

If Hash Browns & Fried Rice Had A Baby...

olive oil
potato, diced
defrosted peas
scrambled egg
kimchi, chopped
cilantro, chopped
black sesame seeds

1. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add potatoes, season with salt, and sauté until potatoes are perfectly tender. DO NOT UNDERCOOK YOUR POTATOES.
2. Add defrosted peas and heat through.
3. Add scrambled egg(s) and kimchi and heat through.
4. Serve topped with cilantro, black sesame seeds and sriracha.

This dish was really satisfying and fun to eat with chopsticks. You of course can choose to use a fork.


What To Do With Thanksgiving Leftovers: Lessons From Blue Duck Tavern

What to do with Thanksgiving leftovers??? Perhaps you aren't thinking about this quite yet. After all, it's only Wednesday! It's the day before Thanksgiving: are you hosting? Are you doing all the cooking? Will there be turkey on your menu?

I'm flying to UTAH tomorrow to visit my friend Rachael and her family!!! We even have a hashtag figured out for our trip: #fujimangoreunion ;) I cannot wait to see Rachael again and to meet the rest of the Fuji family.

Before I leave though, I want to share with you a great experience I had this past Saturday.

Blogging has its perks! This past Saturday I was invited by Heather Freeman PR  to attend a cooking class and dinner at the Blue Duck Tavern in Park Hyatt. I've dined at the Blue Duck Tavern several times in the past, and always find the food, the service and the atmosphere superb.

This event was part of the Masters Program and promised to teach me and the other seven attendees a few ideas for what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers.

Upon arrival, each participant received a glass of Virginia's Thibault-Janisson Brut and an apron. The sparkling wine was refilled at least once. I wasn't complaining!

Then we met chef Ryan LaRoche and learned how to make dumplings. I was expecting fluffy pillow'y dumplings, but these resembled pasta. Ryan demonstrated how to make the dough and then used an incredibly cool tool (see below) to cut the rolled out dough into shapes.

Then we all got to roll out the dumpling dough and make our own shapes. Because I'm quite fancy, I cut my dumplings into diamonds ;)

By the way, check out the gorgeous open kitchen at the Blue Duck Tavern!

It was really nice to have such a small and intimate class and to have the chef all to ourselves. Ryan was ready to answer any of our questions and was clearly in love with his job.

Once the dumpling were whisked away, we went to a beautifully set table and started our meal.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Poached Egg with Heirloom Apple and Pickled Pearl Onion
Recipe courtesy of Ryan LaRoche {I made a few slight edits in directions}

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved and blanched
1 firm apple cored and chopped
1/2 cup Nueske's bacon lardons
2 farm eggs
1/3 cup pickled pearl onions plus 2 tablespoons brine/pickling juice
Fleur de Sel salt and freshly ground pepper

Render the bacon in a large skillet until slightly brown. Remove and set aside.
Place the apple and sprouts in the bacon fat cut side down and cook until brown.
Add the pickled onions and bacon and cook until warm. Add the pickling brine. Season with sea slat and black pepper.
To prepare the egg, heat water in a pan on high until it reaches a bare simmer and bubbles start appearing at the bottom of the pan (bring the water to 144 F) and gently place the eggs in {in the shell!!!}. Cook for one hour and remove.
Place the eggs {out of the shell} over the Brussels sprouts, crack them open and enjoy.

How gorgeous is this dish? The version we had included raw apple julienned on top of the Brussels sprouts as well as micro greens.

Turkey Dumpling Soup
Recipe courtesy of Ryan LaRoche {I made a few slight edits in directions}

The Soup
1 turkey carcass plus bits and scrapings
1 onion, sliced
1 cup chopped celery plus leaves
1/2 to 1 cup sliced carrots (optional)
bouquet garni: 3 or 4 sprigs of parsley (1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried), 2 sprigs of thyme (1 heaping teaspoon fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried), 1 small bay leaf
water to cover
salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a pot and reduce at a simmer. Strain out the bones and keep warm.

The Dumplings
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2-4 tablespoons melted butter (1/4 to 1/2 stick)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (or 1 tablespoon dried)
3/4 cup buttermilk

In a bowl mix the flour, salt and baking powder together. In a separate bowl, mix the butter, chives, and buttermilk together. Next, slowly add the liquid into the dry mix making sure you don't over mix. Once it's combined, roll the dough out and cut into pieces. {You want the dough to be about 1/8 to 1/4" thick.}

Cook the raw dumplings in the turkey broth and enjoy.

Our broth was poured tableside and the soup was finished with dill crème fraiche.

I wish you could smell the aroma! It was such a decadent dish.

Both the Brussels sprouts and the soup were served with Virginia wines: Boxwood Estate Cabernet France Rose and Linden Claret from Linden Vineyards.

And then there were two desserts: cranberry sauce hand pie and pumpkin pie milkshake prepared by Naomi Gallego. Yes, they were as amazing as they sound! 

This entire experience was such a treat! Each student received house made pickled mustard seeds and a hand pie as a thank you gift for attending (as well as the apron!).

Thank you to everyone who made this event possible. Happy Thanksgiving!

Disclosure: I attended the class/dinner free of charge, but was not under any obligation to blog about it. All opinions are my own. The class was $65 for regular people ;)


Raspberry & Ginger Jam With Orange Zest & Bourbon

Last month I was challenged by Driscoll's Berries to incorporate their raspberries into a rugelach recipe from Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi cookbook. I was provided with a free copy of the book, a few coupons for raspberries and a gift card to use for the ingredients. I was otherwise not compensated for this project and as always all opinions are my own.

Phew, not that that's out of the way, let's talk JAM!

I decided to use the Driscoll's raspberries to make jam which I then would use to fill the rugelach dough. I will be posting about that adventure next week: stay tuned.

I did not want to make a simple raspberry jam using only raspberries and sugar. Instead, I decided to add orange zest and fresh ginger and use vanilla sugar. After a few wrong turns, I ended up also adding bourbon!

Raspberry & Ginger Jam With Orange Zest & Bourbon
2 cups raspberries
2 cups vanilla sugar {this is sugar infused with vanilla bean}
peels of one orange {try to avoid the white pith}
1" ginger knob, sliced into coins
2 tablespoon bourbon, optional
1 tablespoon water, optional

1. In a heavy bottomed pot heat together the first 4 ingredients bringing them to a hard boil and mashing the berries.
2. Boil the jam on rapid boil for about 10 minutes.
3. Strain the jam leaving the ginger coins and orange peal as well as the raspberry seeds in the strainer.
4. If your jam is too thick, pour it back into the pot, add bourbon and water and reheat. {Thank you for that suggestion Cecilia!}

How gorgeous is this color? The photo above is of my second jam attempt. The first time I made this jam, it was too liquid. I brought it back to a hard boil and ended up burning it: the color resembled that of burnt caramel. I was seriously thinking of giving up, but decided to try again because luckily I had enough ingredients. This was made at 10 pm last weekend! Talk about commitment ;)

The ginger and orange zest gave a lovely "what is this??" flavor to the raspberry jam and offset the sweetness of the berries and vanilla sugar. You can use the jam mixed with sparkling water or champagne for a festive beverage, top slices of bread with it, or use it to fill your rugelach as I did: photos and post next week!


Carrot Salad With Miso Ginger Dressing Inspired By Chez Sasha

Lately I've been mildly obsessed with mild yellow miso paste...haha get it? Mildly ;) I've made Miso Brussels Sprouts with Dried Cherries and Pine Nuts and Miso Dressing for Roasted Acorn Squash. And I still had quite a bit of the paste left.

Then I saw a fun recipe for Massaged Kale Salad with Miso Ginger Dressing and Garlic Chips on Chez Sasha's blog. Sasha (or Alexandra) and I have been friends on social media for several years now, and I like her recipe ideas because they tend to be simple to make, creative and pretty. I decided to use her dressing recipe as the base for my own creation.

Carrot Salad With Miso Ginger Dressing Inspired By Chez Sasha

2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon mild yellow miso paste
1 garlic clove, microplane'd
1 tablespoon mirin
2 teaspoons grated ginger (again, just like for the garlic I used a microplane)
juice of 1/2 lime
salt to taste
carrots, peeled and then peeled again to make ribbons
black sesame seeds (another latest obsession)

1. Combine the first 7 ingredients in a bowl. Taste. You may want to add a bit more lime juice or salt or miso depending on your taste buds.
2. Pour the dressing over ribbon'ed carrots and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

Of course this dressing would be good on many other things including avocados, fish, chicken, or any salad. Keep in mind it's super garlicky. If you are not a fan, cut down on the amount of garlic. Or just go for it: helps to keep vampires away.

What else should I make with the remaining mild yellow miso paste?