Roasted Fennel & Apple Soup and Blendtec Review

I ♥ gifts. Small gifts, large gifts, just-because gifts. I was thrilled when the lovely people from Blendtec decided to send me one of their machines so that I can play with it in my kitchen. The only two things I asked for were these: 1) it must fit in between my kitchen counter and upper cabinet 2) I love kitchen appliances in red.

My wishes were granted!

I flew back home from visiting my family in Seattle and there was a big red box waiting for me.

How pretty is this machine? The base is shiny red and I LOVE the touch display. The model I received is Designer 625 Blender and "features everything you need to create healthy smoothies, snacks, and meals in a matter of seconds—and it looks great doing it. With a next generation illuminated touch interface, preprogrammed cycles of our most popular blends, this is one blender you won’t want to hide in the cabinets."

At first I was surprised that the blades weren't sharp at all. I wasn't sure how these blunt blades would be able to do the job, but turns out the blades are made these way on purpose! They are supposed to be blunt for safety, yet they are incredibly efficient because of their thickness and strength. Plus, if you happen to accidently touch them with your finger, no blood. {DON'T stick your hands into the blender!}

So far I've only used my new toy once, but I was happy with how powerful it was. It's easy to use, clean, and it really does look gorgeous in the kitchen. I can't wait to experiment more, but for now I'll share with you a recipe I created for Roasted Fennel & Apple Soup.

Roasted Fennel & Apple Soup
1 fennel bulb, core removed, cut into wedges
1 onion, peeled, cut into wedges
1 apple, cored, cut into wedges
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 cup vegetable broth
fennel throngs
apple, diced
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees,
2. Coat fennel, onion and apple wedges with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast these wedges on a cookie sheet in a single layer for about 35 minutes, or until tender.
3. Transfer the roasted wedges to the Blendtec, add vegetable broth and puree until smooth.
4. Adjust the seasoning and serve in soup bowls drizzled with olive oil and topped with fennel throngs and diced apple.

The soup is incredibly rich despite having very little fat. And it's vegan!!! What's not to like? At first the flavor was very peppery, but as the soup sat in my refrigerator, the flavors became milder. In fact, I had a bowl of this soup COLD today for breakfast. It'd be a fun appetizer or first course for a party: you can even serve it in shot glasses.

I look forward to trying out other functionality of Blendtec such as chopping, making smoothies, kneading dough, juicing and dry grinding (making flour!!!).

Thank you so much Blendtec!!!

Disclosure: I received this blender from as a gift from Blendtec. All opinions are my own. I was not paid for this recipe or a review.


Pizza Dinner In Seattle: Delancey

Last week when I flew to visit my family and friends in Seattle, the one place I really wanted to eat at (other than my parents' house because of the awesomeness that is my dad's borsch) was Delancey.

Years ago I read Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table and not so secretly hoped that I too will find my ♥ through/because of my blog. It hasn't happened yet, but there's always hope, right?

A few months ago I read Molly's second book Delancey about an opening of their pizza restaurant, and although I really wish the book was written by Molly's husband, I decided that I MUST visit it the next time I was in Seattle. {The book was good, but I would have loved to read it from Molly's husband's perspective.}

And so I did.                                

My twin Anna and our awesome friend Lera took off an entire day to hang out with me. We met up for dim sum, did a bit of shopping (ok, just 30 minutes of looking around Nordstrom Rack), wondered around Volunteer Park and visited a few museum stores and then headed out to Delancey at 5pm.

God, I LOVED the space of the restaurant. It's this adorable low key neighborhood spot with minimalistic décor and bright lamps and stunning cement tables.

The menu is one page divided into appetizers, pizzas and desserts. The back of the menu lists where the ingredients came from: everything from flour and bread, to olive oil, milk and cream, eggs and even chocolate and sea salt. Speaking of sea salt, it was from Admiralty Salt in Whidbey Island and was incredible.

We started with a plate of Charcuterie, a tomato salad with preserved Meyer lemon, sheep's milk feta and shallot vinaigrette and wood-fired shishito and pardon peppers.

And some fresh bread.

And a bottle of sparkling rose.

Everything looked so good that we were pretty silent for the first 10 minutes other than saying how flavorful, fresh and SO GOOD everything was.

Seriously, this was a dreamy start to a great meal. I was soooo happy!

Once the appetizers were done, we took a bit of a break to catch our breath, to chat and to chat about after dinner plans: walking Lera's dogs and getting beer and dessert. We all love food.

For pizza, we chose white pie with housemade ricotta, fresh and aged mozzarella, garlic and Grana. We added housemade pork fennel sausage to one half and hot salami to the other.

Hot salami won as far as the better topping (at least according to me and Anna). The pizza was crispy, thin, satisfying and perfect. Yes, perfect.

I wish I had room to try a few other toppings. Next time!

Lera and Anna.

That's me.

For dessert we ordered this beauty: Eton Mess: blackberries, lemon curd, cream and crunchy meringue.

I should have taken a photo of the empty dish to express just how awesome it was.

You guys! This was one of the best meals I've had in a long time. Despite my high expectations and anticipation, everything was stellar. Great company, atmosphere, service and food.

This will become a regular on my trips to Seattle.


Za'atar Roasted Cauliflower With Tahini Sauce

Right before I flew to Seattle for a week of family time, I tried to clean my refrigerator and not have too much food to toss. There was a lonely head of cauliflower that was showing its age: brown spots! Instead of tossing it in the garbage, I decided to trim away the brown spots and make Za'atar Roasted Cauliflower With Tahini Sauce.

Have you seen people's photos of roasting the entire cauliflower head? I haven't tried it yet. I also, until this recipe, haven't tried making cauliflower steaks. Let me tell you this: unless you are some sort of a genius, it's really hard to make more than a few steaks from one cauliflower head. Or maybe that's what I'm telling myself to make myself feel better ;)

Za'atar Roasted Cauliflower With Tahini Sauce

1 large cauliflower, cut into steaks (do this by keeping the stem of the cauliflower attached. I was only able to make a few steaks. Don't worry, you can use the "fallen pieces" as well.)
olive oil

for the sauce
2 parts tahini
1 part lemon juice
1 part water
a few splashes hot sauce
salt to taste
1 part chopped cilantro

1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
2. Lightly oil a cookie sheet. Add your cauliflower steaks and "fallen pieces." Lightly coat cauliflower with olive oil and season with salt and za'atar.
3. Roast cauliflower for 25 minutes. Then turn, coat with a bit more olive oil if necessary and season with salt and za'atar. Roast for additional 15-25 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce.
5. Serve cauliflower hot out of the oven with a drizzle of tahini sauce.

I ate some of this concoction straight from a cookie sheet. It was THAT good! You can also reheat the leftovers, if there are any, in the oven or serve them at room temperature.

The sauce would be great as a salad dressing or a dip for vegetables.

Happy Monday!!


What To Do With Kimchi? Kimchi Fried Rice With Chorizo & Pineapple

Last week I shared a recipe for Kimchi Pancakes. Today I bring you another idea for what to do with kimchi: Kimchi Fried Rice With Chorizo & Pineapple. This is not really a recipe, because I'm not specifying the amounts for each ingredient, but I have faith you can figure out how much of each to use!

What To Do With Kimchi? Kimchi Fried Rice With Chorizo & Pineapple

hard chorizo, chopped
olive oil (optional)
pineapple chunks
frozen peas, defrosted
soy sauce
fresh cilantro

1. Heat a skillet. Add chorizo and brown. Remove chorizo to a plate.
2. Scramble an egg in the chorizo fat. Remove from the skillet.
3. Add a bit of olive oil to the skillet. Add pineapple chunks and saute them until they become golden brown.
4. Add defrosted peas, kimchi, rice and season with soy sauce and sriracha. Saute until rice gets a bit crispy.
5. Add back chorizo and scrambled egg to the pan. Heat through. 
6. Serve topped with fresh cilantro.

I so loved this dish. You can have it for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. It'd be even a great snack. Seriously, you've got to make this! Sweet pineapple, spicy kimchi, fatty chorizo and fresh cilantro: what's not to ♥?

If you  need a few more ideas for what to make with kimchi, knock yourselves out ;)


Best Way To Clean The Refrigerator Before Vacation: Make Soup!

Let's say you are going on vacation and have a bunch of random ingredients in your refrigerator you don't feel like throwing in the garbage. What should you do? MAKE SOUP!!!

That, in fact, is exactly what I did.

I had a carcass from a rotisserie chicken, a few random vegetables, and tortillas from making enchiladas earlier that week. I put everything together and made Kale & Tomato Soup with Tortilla Strips.

Note: I made broth from the chicken carcass and a few onion slices, but you can use store-bought carton.

Best Way To Clean The Refrigerator Before Vacation: Make Soup!

Kale & Tomato Soup with Tortilla Strips
Serves 4-6
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large bunch of kale, stems removed and tossed, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 white onion, chopped
kernels from 1 corn on the cob
2 garlic cloves, chopped 
salt & pepper
14. 5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
5 cups chicken broth

sour cream
chopped cilantro
fried tortilla strips 

1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot. Add kale and smoked paprika. Stir. Cover the pot with a lid for 5 minutes.
2. Remove the lid and saute the kale until it wilts.
3. Add onions, corn and garlic; season with salt and pepper and saute for about 15 minutes until the onions are soft.
4. Add tomatoes and chicken broth, bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Serve topped with cilantro, sour cream and fried tortilla strips.

I loved the contrast of sweet corn with earthy flavor of kale and tart tomatoes. Of course you know I love sour cream: it made the soup richer and a bit more indulgent...not to mention the fried tortilla chips. If you have an avocado, cube it and add it on top!

What do you do with random produce before leaving on vacation?


Italian Sausage, Peppers & Onion Breakfast Casserole: Perfect Dish To Share With Friends

TGIF!!!! Are you excited about the weekend? I am! Yesterday I had a moment of panic when I could not remember if I made any fun plans, and then it occurred to me that I'm going to Seattle to visit my family: fun indeed! :)

Whether you are visiting friends and family this weekend, hosting a brunch, or just need to use up leftover bread, you've got to make my Italian Sausage, Peppers & Onion Breakfast Casserole. It's a perfect dish to share with friends, or make and eat for breakfast throughout the week.

Last weekend I went to visit my friends Evi and Sam to bring them food because they became parents to a beautiful little girl. But it's weird to come over and bring food and then have to be fed, right? So I decided to whip up a quick little brunch dish. This is a very easily changeable recipe: use the sausage or don't, use whichever vegetables you like, play with the amount of bread depending on how much egg to bread ratio you want to end up with.

Also, why just make one breakfast casserole? Make one to share and one to keep! Also, I finally got to use the pretty baking dish I found in Marshalls months ago. It's a gorgeous way to serve this breakfast casserole.

Sausage, Peppers & Onion Breakfast Casserole
Makes 2 loaf sized casseroles

1 pound sweet Italian sausage (the one that comes without casing...like ground beef)
olive oil
3 peppers, chopped (I used orange, yellow and green)
1 onion, chopped
10" round Italian bread, cubed (you want 8-10 cups)
10 eggs
1 cup milk
salt & pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)

1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. In a large skillet, brown the sweet Italian sausage, breaking it into pieces. Remove from the skillet.
3. Add a bit of olive oil to the skillet if necessary and sauté peppers and onions for 15-20 minutes.
4. Add back the sausage and bread cubes and mix to combine. If your skillet is not large enough, you may want to mix the ingredients in a large bowl.
5. Whisk together eggs and milk with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup of shredded cheese. Don't worry, you'll use the remaining half a cup in a bit.
6. Once the pepper/onion/bread/sausage mixture cools, divide it between two loaf sized baking dishes. Or you can use one large casserole dish.
7. Cover with the egg mixture and sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese.
8. Bake the casseroles for 30-40 minutes depending on how gooey you want them to be. Make sure the cheese on top is golden brown and bubbling.
9. Serve!

This dish is great served with mimosas and freshly brewed coffee. It feeds a crowd but is also great as leftovers heated in microwave. I bet you could even freeze it.

Have you ever made a breakfast casserole? What do you put in yours?

Have a great weekend! Come back next week to see a recipe for Kimchi Fried Rice with Pineapple and Chorizo!! You don't want to miss it.


Kimchi 2.0 + Kimchi Pancakes Recipe

It has been almost a year since the first time I've made kimchi! It was time to make it again! I had a large Napa cabbage at home that needed to be used, so why not make kimchi? Once again, I used  Joe Yonan's recipe from Eat Your Vegetables. You can see the recipe here. I did make two little changes to the recipe inspired by Fabiola from Not Just Baked: I added 5 radishes and 6 scallions.

Once kimchi was ready, I decided to use it to make Kimchi Pancakes!

Kimchi Pancakes
Makes ~ 6 pancakes

1 cup flour
3/4 cups water
1/4 cup liquid from kimchi
1 egg
1 cup kimchi, chopped
vegetable oil
low sodium soy sauce
scallions, chopped
sesame seeds

1. In a bowl mix together flour, water, kimchi liquid, egg, and chopped kimchi.
2. Heat a skillet and add enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet. Using a 1/3 cup measure form pancakes and allow them to cook for 4-6 minutes on each side until they are golden brown.
3. Mix together low sodium soy sauce with fresh scallions and sesame seeds for a dipping sauce.
4. Serve kimchi pancakes IMMEDIATELY topped with fresh scallions and a side of the dipping sauce.

Thoughts: these were great. I love savory pancakes, and kimchi added intense flavor to this dish. You really must serve/eat these immediately because they get soggy as they sit around. Clearly, using more oil would make these crispier. Apparently adding a bit of baking powder to the batter will make pancakes crispier too. Thanks for the tip @KoreaFoods!

Stay tuned for another recipe using kimchi later this week (or next week), but in the meantime try these ideas: