See you in 2016!

Whether you just finished celebrating Hanukkah, or are looking forward to celebrating Christmas, or simply are excited to have a few days off work, I wish you a time of peace, and joy, and well being.

I'll see you in 2016!!!


Roasted Beet & Sweet Potato Salad With Sriracha Kraut

Do you stick to the recipes? I don't ;)

Last Sunday I was home trying to figure out what to make for lunch. I had a bunch of beets, a random sweet potato and an unopened jar of Sriracha Kraut that I picked up on a whim at World Market.

After some thought, I realized that these ingredients reminded me of the Russian beet salad called vinegret that's made with beets, potatoes, peas, pickles and eggs. I decided to make a version of that salad with the ingredients I had.

Roasted Beet & Sweet Potato Salad With Sriracha Kraut
Serves 3-4

1 large beet, roasted, cooled, peeled, diced***
1 large sweet potato, roasted, cooled, peeled, diced
1 pickle, diced
1 cup defrosted peas
1 cup sriracha kraut
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
salt to taste

*** I like roasting beets in a 425F oven for about 1-1.5 hours depending on the size. Scrub the beets, then wrap in aluminum foil after drizzling them with a bit of olive oil and sprinkling with salt.

1. Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate the salad for at least an hour.

Trust me: the salad tastes better than it looks (or rather better than I was able to photograph it). Other additions that would work in this salad: avocado, herbs such as dill or parsley, and maybe even olives or capers.

Happy almost weekend!


Curried Carrot Ginger Soup From Foster's Market Favorites Cookbook

Last month I received a preview copy of Foster's Market Favorites Cookbook and spent an evening marking all the recipes I wanted to make. For Thanksgiving dinner with friends I decided to make Curried Carrot Ginger Soup and it was a hit!

I normally try not to make a new recipe for the first time for a big get together, but the flavors and instructions in this recipe were straight forward, with just enough of a twist to make the soup stand out. I did not make my own curry powder, nor did I use butter. Otherwise, I followed the recipe as it is below. This soup makes quite a bit, so make sure you share it with those you love.

Sara Foster’s love of Southern fare began in her Granny Foster’s Tennessee kitchen. There, the combination of down-home comfort, fresh-from-the-farm ingredients, and dedicated preparation hooked her for life.

Now, in FOSTER’S MARKET FAVORITES: 25TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION, Sara Foster serves up more than 150 recipes, sharing with readers the dishes that have kept diners coming back to the beloved Durham, NC eatery that she opened in 1990.

In FOSTER’S MARKET FAVORITES, the award-winning cookbook author and restaurateur continues the tradition of soulful yet simple, seasonally inspired cooking, where tradition meets modern. These fresh, satisfying creations are casual enough for everyday family meals, but special enough to serve friends and guests.

Some of Sara’s mouth-watering recipes include: Pimiento Cheese Puffs, Pecan Sweet Potato Sticky Buns, Chicken and Black-Eyed Pea Soup, Pickle-Brined Fried Chicken with Sriracha Honey, Chile-Braised Pork Shoulder with Taco Fixings, Heirloom and Shell Bean Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette, Dark Chocolate Buttermilk Bread Pudding with Bourbon Hard Sauce, and Brown Sugar Apple Crisp with Crumb Topping. FOSTER’S MARKET FAVORITES is an all-inclusive collection of Southern cooking in which simple feasts meet artisanal ingredients, traditional tastes meet modern methods, and fantastic flavors make every bite a succulent mouthful of Southern comfort.

Curried Carrot Ginger Soup
Ingredients/introduction/ directions copied with permission from the publisher.
SPIKED WITH CURRY POWDER AND GINGER, this blazing orange soup tastes as warm as it appears.

To add more zest, top it off with a dollop of Harissa Buttermilk Yogurt Sauce (page 142).

Makes about 3 1/2 quarts / Serves 8 to 10

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 to 12 carrots (about 11/2 pounds), scrubbed and chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 parsnips, chopped
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed and diced
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons Homemade Curry Powder (recipe below)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
8 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Zest and juice of 2 oranges
1 (13 1/2-ounce) can light coconut milk
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Sriracha Harissa Buttermilk Yogurt Sauce (page 142)
Lime wedges

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until sizzling hot. Add the onion, reduce  the heat to low and cook, stirring, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and melt. Add the carrots, celery, parsnips and peppers and cook, stirring often, until the carrots are just cooked, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, curry, cumin and cardamom and continue to cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes more.

2. Stir in the broth, salt and pepper and reduce the heat to low, simmering, until the carrots are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the orange zest and juice, coconut milk, cilantro, honey and Sriracha.

3. Allow the soup to cool slightly and place an immersion blender into the pot, or pour the cooled soup into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, and puree until smooth. Serve warm with additional cilantro sprinkled on top and a swirl of Harissa Buttermilk Yogurt Sauce.

This soup can also be served chilled with wedges of lime to squeeze in.

HOMEMADE CURRY POWDER Make your own fresh and aromatic curry powder. In a small bowl or airtight container fitted with a lid, combine 1 tablespoon ground Hungarian paprika, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon ground coriander, 1 tablespoon ground turmeric, 2 teaspoons ground cardamom, 2 teaspoons ground yellow mustard, 2 teaspoons ground fennel seed, 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves. Stir or shake to blend. Store in an airtight container until ready to use, up to several months. Makes about 1/2 cup.  

BEYOND SOUP I often repurpose pureed soups like this one to flavor a simple broth for other dishes. If making a risotto, add 1/2 cup to the broth. Or if steaming mussels or scallops, thin 1 cup of the soup with a little white wine or fish stock.
Disclosure: I received a preview copy of the cookbook for free, but am not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.


Eating Out In Portland: Oso And Blue Star

You guys! I'm having a mild panic moment: I have no travel plans as of now going forward. HELP!

I'm considering whisking myself away somewhere for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend in January. Miami? Charlottesville? Greenville? I'm trying to pick a new place (I've already been to Savannah, Atlanta, New Orleans, Charleston, etc, etc.) that's a quick plane ride away, doesn't require having a car, and has good food and fun things to do. Suggestions??

Thinking about my travel options, reminded me that I haven't posted these photos from my day trip to Portland this past August. During my trip to Seattle to visit my family, Anna, Lera and I drove to Oregon Wine Country, and then stopped for a night in Portland on the way back.

Before driving back to Seattle, we met up with Fabiola for brunch and dounuts. I love reuniting with my blogger friends when I travel, and seeing Fabiola was super fun.

For brunch, we met at Oso Market. I loved the causal décor, the spicy Bloody Mary and the fact that we weren't overwhelmed with choices. Sometimes it's completely alright to have a short menu.

When food bloggers and friends of food bloggers eat, there are a lot of photographs and a lot of sharing. That's exactly what happened:

That's Fabi and me doing what we do ;)

And then we HAD to check out Blue Star Donuts. Alas we were too full to actually eat them, but Anna and I picked up a variety of treats to bring back to Seattle and share with our parents and brother. We were raised well ;)

Anna and I.

Donut wheel. I don't even remember my favorite one...I think it might have been the pink glazed one. Hibiscus?

What's your next travel adventure?


Tehina Shortbread Cookies From Michael Solomonov's Zahav

Last month I splurged on a Zahav pop up dinner in DC with my friend Mary. After all, the dinner, including the book, was less expensive than the trip to Philadelphia to the well known and hard-to-get-reservations restaurant.

The dinner was fantastic. The hummus was one of the smoothest I've ever had. I did my best not to lick the plate. The lamb was tender and served with fragrant rice. And then there was dessert. As soon as I put the tehina shortbread cookie in my mouth, my childhood memories rushed in. Growing up in Russia, I often ate halvah with tea and lemon. My parents still keep this tradition. These shortbread cookies, which melt in your mouth, taste exactly like halvah because both use tehina (tahini) as one of the key ingredients. I knew these cookies will be the first recipe I made from the cookbook.

Text excerpted from ZAHAV, © 2015 by MICHAEL SOLOMONOV and STEVEN COOK. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. 

Tehina Shortbread Cookies

Makes about 30 cookies 

It may come as a surprise, but tehina is perfect in desserts because, in addition to adding nutty flavor, it helps modulate sweetness and leaves you wanting more. For me, there’s nothing as comforting as these shortbread cookies enriched with tehina. They are ridiculously easy to make and extremely satisfying. Because the tehina replaces some of the butter in a traditional shortbread, they are actually quite light. (Or at least that’s how I rationalize eating ten of them in one sitting.) I love to crumble them on Turkish Coffee Ice Cream or layer them with Tehina Semifreddo to make the ultimate ice cream sandwich. But these cookies are perfectly delicious simply dusted with confectioners’ sugar and served with coffee.

1¾ sticks (7 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup tehina
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch kosher salt

Combine the butter and sugar in a stand mixer on medium speed or in a large bowl with a hand mixer and mix until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add the tehina and continuing mixing until well incorporated.  Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk together. Transfer to the tehina mixture and beat until just incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. (The dough keeps well in the freezer for a few months.) 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are light brown around the edges and set, about 15 minutes.

Let cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for 1 week.

These were incredibly easy to make. The hardest part was scooping the cookies because there were so many of them! I used a little cookie scoop, which made the job easier. I also ended up freezing about half of the scooped (unbaked) cookies, and they baked beautifully directly from the freezer at 350F for about 25 minutes. 

I've eaten quite a few of these unassuming looking cookies and brought some to share to a few good friends, and even baked a batch to bring to Seattle last weekend when I flew to surprise my dad for his belated birthday. These were truly a hit!

Have you cooked from Zahav cookbook yet? What should I make next?


Happy Hanukkah!!!

Happy Hanukkah to everyone celebrating!

I flew to Seattle for the weekend to surprise my dad for his belated birthday and as a bonus got to spend the first night of Hanukkah with my family.

Here's a little song for you :) I only got 6 hours the night before, so I'm slightly loopy.

A video posted by @mangotomato on

A photo posted by @mangotomato on


What To Make With Cauliflower: Vegan Roasted Cauliflower & Tomatoes With Artichoke Hearts

Love cauliflower? I do too. But not in a mashed form. Mashed cauliflower isn't the same as mashed potatoes: mashed potatoes win all the time!

Roasting cauliflower, however, is a winning technique. This Vegan Roasted Cauliflower & Tomatoes With Artichoke Hearts recipe takes very little effort to make, but serves up a lot of flavor, texture and color. Eat it piping hot straight out of the oven, at room temperature, or even cold. It's good as a full meal with crusty bread or as a side with grilled fish or chicken. Mix it into pasta or use it as a topping for a pizza. The possibilities are endless!

What To Make With Cauliflower: Vegan Roasted Cauliflower & Tomatoes With Artichoke Hearts

Serves 2-4

1/2 head of cauliflower broken into small florets
2 pints grape tomatoes
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, cut into wedges
1 tablespoon stone ground coarse mustard
3 tablespoons chopped parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 400.
2. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and roast for about 40 minutes, shaking the cookie sheets occasionally. Make sure that cauliflower and tomatoes are roasting in a single layer.
3. Combine roasted vegetables with marinated artichoke hearts, mustard and parsley. Serve.

Doesn't this look elegant and rustic all at the same time!?

What do you like to make with cauliflower?


What To Do With Leftover Ramen Noodles: Ramen Noodles With Vegetables & Fried Egg

Welcome to this cold, grey and rainy Tuesday! Did you have a good Thanksgiving holiday? I did! I got to see my twin and hang out with our friends and do some touristy things around DC as well as cook together. It was lovely. And now it's back to work and all the adulthood chores.

This Ramen Noodles With Vegetables & Fried Egg recipe is from a few weeks ago and I really wish I had something similar for dinner tonight. But don't worry...maybe I'll make potato balls with leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes!

Whenever I go out for pho or ramen, I almost always ask for only half the noodles because the broth is my favorite part. Last time, however, when I went to Daikaya for lunch, I decided to get the full amount of noodles in my spicy miso ramen bowl. I ate all the broth and half the noodles and took the rest of the noodles home.

What To Do With Leftover Ramen Noodles: Ramen Noodles With Vegetables & Fried Egg

Here's what you do:
1) Saute any vegetables you like: I used mushrooms, peppers and broccoli
2) Reheat leftover noodles in a separate pot
3) Fry an egg
4) Top the noodles with sautéed vegetables and a fried egg
5) Dig in

Breaking the yolk is one of my favorite things to do ;)

Clearly I thought this was a successful dish.