7/2/20

Weekend Inspirations: Farmgirl Flowers


When it's another weekend at home, you may as well spend it with gorgeous flowers. Super grateful to my friend Jenny for sending these beauties to me after I told her about one of my emotional meltdowns. 

What are your plans for this 4th of July weekend? I'm going to continue sewing masks, writing VOTE post cards, and exercising.

Special projects will include dusting, laundry, perhaps baking bread, and maybe food takeout or delivery!

6/29/20

Pistachio Gelato with Chocolate Halva and Cherries


Hi, there Monday. How I've not missed you. Luckily, I have a scoop of delicious Pistachio Gelato with Chocolate Halva and Cherries in the freezer to brighten my mood.

This dessert was inspired by a chocolate halva my friends at Hebel & Co sent me a few weeks ago.

Originally, I thought about mixing chunks of halva into vanilla ice cream, but Whole Foods was out of their 365 brand, and I just did not feel like paying $6 for ice cream. And so I picked up a small container of pistachio gelato instead!

This impressive looking, and more importantly, delicious dessert could not be easier to put together. It bursts with color, texture, and flavor and is easily made days in advance.

Pistachio Gelato with Chocolate Halva and Cherries

1 pint pistachio gelato, softened for 20 minutes in the refrigerator
4 ounces chocolate halva, cut into large pieces, or crumbled
12 cherries, pitted, and chopped
1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate

In a large bowl, mix together gelato, halva, and cherries. Be careful not to smash the ingredients together: you still want to see the chunks of halva and pieces of cherries.

Freeze the mixture overnight.

Serve topped with dark chocolate.

That's all!

Because you've added several ingredients to the gelato, the final mixture will not fit into its original container: snack on the remainder :)

Disclosure: I received a sample of halva free of charge and was not paid for this post. All opinions are my own.

6/22/20

Turmeric Challah With Pistachios And Nigella Seeds


Hi, friends! It's been silent here for a bit, but I've been still cooking and baking and eating: check out my instagram if you have any doubts. 

Over the weekend, I baked Turmeric Challah With Pistachios And Nigella Seeds. I came up with this idea for multiple reasons:

1. I finally have a scale!! (a kitchen scale that is)
2. I've not baked in a while.
3. Turmeric makes any baked good so beautiful.
4. I received a sample of Hebel & Co pistachio and nigella halva that also came with a little jar of pistachios and nigella seeds
5. Anna, my twin, made King Arthur challah recipe before and highly approved of it

What I did:

1. I made the challah recipe from King Arthur Flour, but added a few dashes of turmeric, about 3 tablespoons of pistachios, and 2 teaspoons of nigella seeds. Also, I used olive oil instead of vegetable oil. 
2. Using a kitchen scale for measuring the ingredients and to divide the dough into equal amounts was such a game changer! Why did not I do this earlier?
3. I made 3 challah rolls and one braid from the full recipe. 
4. My condo smelled DIVINE. 



Just look at the gorgeous yellow color!!! The turmeric gives an almost earthy savory flavor to the bread. I think it would have been better to add pistachios at the very end because they got a bit soggy after the 4 hours of proofing process. The nigella seeds were a surprise to me as this was the first time I've tried them: they have a hard to describe flavor of an almost earthier/deeper cumin!

And what did I do the the pistachio nigella halva you may be wondering? I crumbled it on top of Greek yogurt and fresh apricots. 


5/18/20

Smoked Salmon, Potato & Vegetable Soup


The weather has turned cool and gloomy, and I really wish I had Smoked Salmon, Potato & Vegetable Soup from a few weeks ago.

This soup happened because I had some smoked salmon I did not really like. I thought it would taste milder when heated. First, I added it to an omelet, then I decided to make soup.

Because I did not have heavy cream, I used cream cheese. I originally wanted to use corn, but did not have any: luckily, I had a bag of frozen peas. Basically what I'm saying is use whatever you have!

Smoked Salmon, Potato & Vegetable Soup
Ingredients
4 portions

4 red skinned potatoes, cut into 3/4" cubes
water
salt
olive oil
2 carrots, diced
1 celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups spinach
2 cups defrosted peas
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 cup chopped smoked salmon
fresh herbs
focaccia

Directions
1. Cover potatoes in a large soup pot with water by a few inches. Add salt. Cook until potatoes are tender.
2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet. Add carrots, celery, and garlic, and saute until tender, about 10-15 minutes. 
3. Add the vegetables to the cooked potatoes.
4. Stir in spinach and peas and allow the soup to come to a boil. The spinach will wilt.
5. Pour about 1 cup of the soup liquid into a small bowl and whisk in cream cheese. Add back into the soup pot.
6. Stir in smoked salmon and heat through.
7. Serve topped with fresh herbs of your choice (parsley, dill, cilantro, scallions) with a side of focaccia. 

The soup reheats great, and actually becomes creamier as potatoes fall apart slightly!

5/11/20

Garden Vegetable Focaccia


After seeing photos of gorgeously decorated focaccia all over social media, I finally decided to give it a try yesterday. After all, what else do I have to do Sunday during quarantine? I mean other than yoga, reading, sewing face masks, trying to keep anxiety in check, going for walks, chatting with friends and family, cooking, and admiring my plants....

Garden Vegetable Focaccia

I used a recipe I made 8 years ago, but instead of adding sauteed onions, grated cheese and herbs, I added these fun garden ingredients:

fresh asparagus, sliced lengthwise
pickled carrots I ordered from Phickles
parsley
dill
grape tomatoes, sliced in half
red onion, sliced into circles
mini peppers, sliced into circles

Use your favorite focaccia recipe and press your garden ingredients lightly into the dough after spreading focaccia onto your baking sheet.

Allow the dough to rise again for about 30 minutes lightly covered with a clean kitchen towel, then lightly brush the top of focaccia with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt before baking it in the oven.

I think my Garden Vegetable Focaccia turned out pretty!! It smelled amazing. I gave part of it to my friend who ate it to break her fast!!! 

5/5/20

Taco Tuesday: Potato, Feta & Black Bean Tacos


Today is a wonderful combination of Taco Tuesday and Cinco de Mayo. To celebrate the occasion, I made Potato, Feta & Black Bean Tacos for lunch.

Just like life, these tacos aren't perfect. Just like in life, I made the best of what I had. {Is this too much for a food blog!?}

Potato, Feta & Black Bean Tacos
1) Guess who did not have any taco-shaped tortillas!? Not to worry, I charred a giant jalapeno wrap directly on my gas stove and then used a giant cookie cutter to make little rounds.

2) For the filling, I used a combination of cooked and sliced Russian Banana fingerling potatoes (first time I've heard of this variety), mini red peppers, black beans, crumbled feta, home made pickled red onion, cilantro leaves, and store bought salsa verde

3) My plan to add diced avocado, failed because the avocado was utterly unripe when I cut into it.

4) I forgot to add a few wedges of lime.

Still, the combination I did end up having was rather delicious and filling.

Now, if someone could just send me a mango margarita, hold the booze. 

4/29/20

Sourdough Za'atar & Cayenne Crackers


Remember Bubbly Olguita? That's the name of my sourdough starter for those who haven't been following my adventures in sourdough baking.

As I mentioned in in my earlier post, I used part of the starter to make crackers. I followed the recipe from King Arthur, but made a few changes following my twin's advice: mainly the use of olive oil instead of butter. 

Sourdough Za'atar & Cayenne Crackers
Adapted from King Arthur

1 cup flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sourdough starter
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons za'atar
cayenne powder to taste
more salt as a finishing touch

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Combine the first 6 ingredients. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

On a piece of parchment, roll out the dough to 1/16" thickness. Use flour if the dough is slightly sticky.

Use a ravioli cutter to stamp out your crackers. Alternatively, use a knife or a pizza cutter to cut the dough into desired shapes.

Prick each cracker with a fork to make sure they'll bake evenly without puffing up.

Sprinkle the crackers with kosher salt, slightly pressing the salt into the dough.

Carefully transfer the parchment with the cut up crackers, you do not need to separate them at this point, onto the back of the cookie sheet (this is much easier!) and bake for about 18-20 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet halfway through the baking process.

Once the crackers have cooled, break them into individual pieces. 

These freeze amazingly well!

4/27/20

Quarantine Roasted Tomato & Pepper Soup Adapted From Cool Beans


Over the weekend I adapted Joe Yonan's recipe from Cool Beans for Roasted Tomato and Pepper Soup.

I won Joe's cookbook from the food chat on Washington Post, and have already made his Garlicky Great Northern Beans and Broccoli Rabe Over Toast recipe a month or so ago.

The Roasted Tomato and Pepper Soup is an easy to follow recipe with pretty standard ingredients, but I did not want to use my fresh tomatoes and did not have fresh peppers. What I did have, however, were cans of tomatoes and a jar of roasted peppers. That's what I ended up using. The benefit of starting with canned tomatoes is that you can make this soup any time of the year: even when tomatoes are not in season.

The key to using canned tomatoes is to drain them incredibly well (I drank the liquid) and then roasting tomatoes in the oven.

Quarantine Roasted Tomato & Pepper Soup Adapted From Cool Beans

Serves 4

Ingredients

28 ounce canned diced tomatoes, drained well
14.5 ounce canned diced tomatoes, drained well
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 jarred roasted peppers, chopped
3 cups liquid**
salt & pepper to taste
1 handful basil leaves, more to garnish
2 cups cooked beans (I used Great Northern beans)
optional: sugar
chili oil
challah

** use a combination of liquid from the beans (I cooked mine in the pressure cooker) and water or vegetable broth

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 500F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Spread drained diced tomatoes in a single layer, drizzle with olive oil, and roast for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, add olive oil and heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute till tender. Do not burn.
3. Add roasted tomatoes and peppers to the onions and garlic. Season with salt & pepper. 
4. Add the liquid, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Add basil. Using an immersion blender, carefully blend the soup to the consistency you desire.
6. Add the beans and heat through. Add a pinch of sugar if needed.
7. Serve the soup drizzled with chili oil and a few fresh basil leaves. Challah toast is a great accompaniment!

I loved the natural sweetness of tomatoes that came through after roasting them in the oven paired with the chili oil. This soup can be an excellent sauce (do not add beans) for meatballs or a base for shakshuka!

4/24/20

Kalamata Olive & Basil Challah With Sunflower Seeds


If it's Friday, it's time to bake challah! Kidding. 

You can bake challah any day you want. You just need to have enough flour and yeast. Luckily, I had both. Unfortunately, something went wrong with my trusty recipe: maybe the yeast did not bloom? Maybe it was too cold inside my condo?

I had to add almost an extra cup of flour to stop the dough from being sticky. Also, it took almost 20 extra minutes to bake the challah in the oven.


What's going on!?!?


I also tried to make a 6 braid challah (that's the one on the left): it was quite a disaster. That's why I made a regular 3 braid challah with the remaining dough. Both lost their definition while baking.

But let's talk about what did work: the flavor!

Kalamata Olive & Basil Challah With Sunflower Seeds

1. Make your trusty regular challah recipe, but use sunflower oil instead of canola or vegetable oil. Try to find Ukrainian or Russian sunflower oil if you can.
2. Before braiding the challah, add 10 chopped kalamata olives (use paper towels to remove any extra moisture from the olives) and 5 chopped basil leaves.
3. After brushing unbaked challah with an egg wash, sprinkle the tops with sunflower seeds.

Here you go!

4/22/20

Pumpkin & Salmon Red Thai Curry


This past weekend I all of a sudden thought about one of my favorite dishes from Thai X-ing, a restaurant in DC, that I've not had in a while: pumpkin and salmon curry!

Maybe it's because the weather in DC area has been on a cooler side, or because I happened to have a can of coconut cream in my pantry and a kabocha squash that's been sitting on my kitchen counter for too many weeks to count.

I also just happened to have a few pieces of salmon arriving in my order from Whole Foods. Perfect timing.

I found a recipe from sel et sucre and adapted it using what I had in my kitchen. It definitely hit the spot!

Pumpkin & Salmon Red Thai Curry
Serves 4-6

1 can coconut cream (do not shake it)
1/4 cup Thai red curry paste
1 kabocha squash, or any other small pumpkin or winter squash, peeled very carefully, and cut into bite size pieces after removing the seeds
water
3 kaffir leaves
1 orange pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 yellow squash, sliced
salt
2 salmon filets, skins removed, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup defrosted peas

lime 
cilantro

1. In a large skillet, add the coconut cream (the solid part) and red curry paste and simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Add kabocha, coconut milk (the liquid part from the can), and enough water to cover. Drop in kaffir leaves. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 5-10 minutes until kabocha is tender.
3. Add peppers and yellow squash, season with salt and cook for 3-5 more minutes.
4. Nestle in salmon pieces and defrosted green peas and simmer until salmon is cooked through: about 3-5 minutes.
5. Serve garnished with lime wedges (squeeze those into the curry) and cilantro.

Look at the color!!! Of course if you have fish sauce and Thai basil, use those. You can also add a bit of heat with sriracha.

I ate the curry without rice, but you can do as you please. 

If you are vegetarian or vegan, use tofu or mushrooms instead of salmon. This would also be great with eggplant.

Comfort in a bowl.

4/20/20

How To Make Injera Chips


Raise your hand if you LOVE Ethiopian food! I love it so much, I ordered it for my birthday last month. One vegetarian platter AND one medium rare beef lasted for several meals, and I even had a large piece of injera leftover.

Did you know you can freeze injera? Wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap and put in your freezer.

You can defrost injera directly on your kitchen counter for about an hour and then make Injera Chips!!!

Injera Chips
1) Preheat the oven to 425F.
2) Tear injera into chip-size pieces.
3) In a single layer, arrange injera pieces on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Roast for 7-10 minutes on each side. Allow to cool slightly. 

No need for oil or spices, but you can add both if you so desire.

These chips are incredibly light and crispy and are very addictive!

4/16/20

Dalgona Coffee: Delightful Cloud Like Beverage


I finally jumped on the dalgona coffee wagon! All it took was finding a packet of Starbucks VIA instant coffee behind several containers of coffee and tea in my cupboard.

If you want a fun cloud-like beverage with a caffeine kick, this is for you!

Dalgona Coffee
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon sugar
almond milk
home made whipped cream, sweetened
dark chocolate, shaved

1. Whisk the first three ingredients. Don't be a hero: use an electrical mixer.
2. Pour almond milk into a glass. 
3. Top the milk with whipped coffee.
4. Spoon whipped cream over the whipped coffee and top with chocolate shavings.

BUZZED

4/14/20

Adventures In Sourdough Bread Baking: From Starter To Loaf


Sourdough!! Have you seen all the photos of gorgeous loaves and countless jars of starters on line? Well, after a break up, and right before my birthday, and right as the social isolation was starting, I decided to try my hand at making my own sourdough starter.

After all, I needed something else that was alive in my one bedroom condo other than me and my 42 plants. Yes, 42 plants.

I used directions from TheKitchn and named my starter Bubbly Olguita.

Here's what I did:
Day 1 (March 25): 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon flour + 1/2 cup water (from now on referred as feeding)
Day 2: feeding
Day 3: feeding
Day 4: feeding
Day 5 (March 29 aka my birthday): feeding
Day 6: skipped feeding. Made my first sourdough loaf using a recipe and directions from Food52, but adding a few extra folding steps:  


Not bad for the first effort...it tasted like bread and looked like bread, but did not rise as much as I was hoping for and did not taste sour. I sliced and froze most of it.


Day 7: feeding
Day 8: skipped feeding. Made crackers using 1 cup of Bubbly Olguita (I'll post them later)
Day 9: feeding
Day 10: feeding
Day 11: used 1 cup to make pickle sourdough pancakes and gave 1 cup away + feeding
Day 12: baked 2nd loaf and put the rest of Bubbly Olguita into refrigerator to hibernate

The second loaf pictured below (and also the first photo in this post) was SO MUCH BETTER than the first. 

First, the starter actually floated in the water (that's the test some people tell you to perform to find out if the starter is ready: you just take a teaspoon of the starter and plunk it into a glass of water).

Second, I purchased a professional lame tool, and after accidentally cutting myself, was able to make a beautiful design.

Third, the loaf definitely rose quite a bit more than the first one and had better texture.

I sliced most of it and froze: it's great toasted!!


Finally, I decided to purchase a stainless steal knob for my Le Creuset so that I would not have to remove the plastic one every time I need to put the lid in the oven. How much do you love my Laser Lemon Door!?


I hope to bake more with Bubbly Olguita once it's no longer an ordeal to buy flour.

4/10/20

Weekend Inspiration: Plants


Grateful for having these beauties to keep me company.

TGIF

4/8/20

Spring Pasta With Leeks, Zucchini, And Peas


This Spring Pasta With Leeks, Zucchini, And Peas is a super quick lunch recipe and was inspired by Melissa Clark's chat last week (virtual) with Politics & Prose

I submitted a question to Melissa asking what to do with 3 leeks and one huge zucchini. Melissa suggested sauteing both in butter and olive oil, then adding anchovies and serving with pasta.

I don't happen to like anchovies, other than the large fat marinated ones, but did not have those in my pantry (aka one kitchen cabinet).

I used what I had. It turned out lovely.

Spring Pasta With Leeks, Zucchini, And Peas

Ingredients (without  exact measurements)
olive oil
butter
leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced in half lengthwise, and then into thin moon shapes
large zucchini, sliced the same as leeks
garlic cloves, minced
salt
defrosted peas
zest and juice of Meyer lemon, or a regular lemon
pasta of your choice, cooked
shaved English extra mature cheddar
6 minute jammy egg (Put eggs into cold water. Bring to a boil. Cover. Turn the heat off. Let stand for 6 minutes. Dunk eggs into ice cold water. Peel. Cut in half.)
sumac

Directions
1. Heat a combination of olive oil and butter in a large skillet. Add leeks and saute until they've softened. Try not to burn them like I did.
2. Add zucchini. At this point you may want to cover the skillet with a lid to quickly soften the zucchini.
3. Take the lid off, add garlic, and continue sauteing until the vegetables are cooked through and are golden brown.
4. Season with salt. Add defrosted peas, Meyer lemon zest and juice, and pasta. Combine. Heat through.
5. Serve in a bowl that you made in a pottery class.
6. Top with shaved cheese.
7. Add half of an egg topped with sumac.

This dish is great hot or at room temperature. Also, feel free to forego pasta and instead use the leek/zucchini/pea mixture as a filling for an omelet or a topping for toast!

4/6/20

Sourdough Pickle & Scallion Pancakes With Creamy Spicy Mango Sauce


If you are following me on instagram or are friends with me in real life and on FB, you know that I have a new addition to my family: Bubbly Olguita. Who??? It's my sourdough starter!

I'll write more about Bubbly Olguita in upcoming posts. For now, let's just say it's been an interesting 12 day experiment, and she's now hibernating in my refrigerator until the days when it'll no longer be a big deal to procure flour.

One of the steps in the sourdough starter process is to discard part of the starter. There are many recipes for what to do with that starter, but I decided to make Sourdough Pickle & Scallion Pancakes With Creamy Spicy Mango Sauce after seeing
Dan's (aka The Food in my Beard) Pickle Pancakes. Dan uses flour and pickle juice in his pancakes with vinegar. I just used my starter straight up.

Dan's recipe has actual measurements. Mine are approximations.

Sourdough Pickle & Scallion Pancakes With Creamy Spicy Mango Sauce
Ingredients
1 cup sourdough starter
1 huge pickle, diced
2 scallions, sliced (more for garnish)
2 tablespoons cornstarch

olive oil

mayonnaise
mango chili sauce
soy sauce
sriracha

Directions
1. Combine sourdough starter, diced pickle, scallion, and cornstarch in a bowl.
2. Heat olive oil in a nonstick pan. Pour batter into the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes on each side. {You can make many little pancakes or a few large ones.}
3. Meanwhile, combine equal amounts of mayonnaise and mango chili sauce in a small bowl. Add enough soy sauce and sriracha to satisfy your salty and spicy taste buds.
4. Serve sourdough pickle and scallion pancakes garnished with scallions and a side of spicy mango sauce.

These were spongy in the best way possible. I loved the crispy edges the most!

4/1/20

Olive Oil & Chocolate Chip Brownie Cake


Last Sunday was my birthday. My original plans of celebrating in Arizona with my twin Anna and our friend Kate clearly did not happen.

Instead, I did a lot of facetime with family and friends, chatted on the phone, had a friend drop by and drop off banh mi sandwiches (thank you Sylvie!!), got flowers delivered from Anna, made a batch of Russian Potato salad, went on a walk, drank white wine, and got Ethiopian take out.

I also made myself a cake.

Olive Oil & Chocolate Chip Brownie Cake
1) Use a brownie mix, but instead of vegetable oil, use olive oil.
2) Add a splash of vanilla extract and a handful of chocolate chips.
3) Once baked and fully cooled, cut out 3 rounds using a biscuit or cookie cutter. Freeze the rest for later.
4) Whip heavy whipping cream.
5) Layer the brownie rounds with whipped cream and currants. If you can't find currants, use any other berries.
6) Add candles. Light them. Make a wish. Blow them out.

3/30/20

Everything But The Bagel And Herbaceous No Knead Bread


Guess what!? I baked another no knead loaf last week. Don't worry: I did not eat all of it. I sliced more than half and froze it.


Everything But The Bagel And Herbaceous No Knead Bread

This time, I used my standard Le Creuset recipe, but added two things:

2 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs: a combination of rosemary, thyme, and parsley
2 tablespoons everything but the bagel spice mix

I also increased the amount of salt to about 2 teaspoons in the dough itself.

The result looked and smelled amazing. I need to work on my lame skills, and actually ordered a professional lame tool to make the scoring of the unbaked bread easier and more precise.

This bread is best when toasted. 

For other flavor ideas, check out my za'atar and Parmesan loaf and turmeric and black pepper loaf

3/27/20

Friday Flower Love: Weekend Inspirations


Mood boosters:
a walk outside
a thoughtfully prepared meal
a spoon of Nutella
Facetime with friends and family
yoga
Fleabag

How are you all doing in this new temporary (I HOPE) reality?

Yesterday I picked up roses and tulips at the grocery store and paired them with yellow mums from a few weeks ago to arrange my birthday from-me-to-me flowers. 

I'm planning on celebrating on Sunday by making a mini brownie cake, a batch of Russian potato salad, and facetiming with my family.

TGIF.

3/23/20

Vegan Overnight Oats


Week 2 of telework. Decided to keep some sense of normalcy in the days of Corona isolation by setting up overnight oats Sunday night to eat for breakfast Monday through Thursday.

Given that I'm eating breakfasts at home now instead of in my cubicle, I thought using an actual bowl (I actually made this one in a pottery class years ago) was in order.

Vegan Overnight Oats
Serves 1
1/2 cup oats
3/4 cups almond milk
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 kiwi, peeled, sliced
1 banana, peeled, sliced
handful blackberries

The night before, add oats, almond milk, and chia seeds into a container with a lid.

The morning of your breakfast, pour the oatmeal into a bowl and top with kiwis, bananas, and blackberries.

Clearly you can use any fruit or berries you like as well as nuts.

Feel free to drizzle syrup on top if you want something sweet.

3/16/20

No Knead Za'atar And Parmesan Bread


Oh what a time...things are closing down, we are told to stay away from others, grocery stores are running out of staples...what to do?

Netlix, plant care, facetime, but also, BAKE BREAD!!

If you have yeast and flour, you are basically a few hours away from a loaf of no knead bread!

Once again I used this recipe from Le Creuset, but added a few tablespoons of za'atar during the first step and about a cup of shredded Parmesan during the last step of the process.


I am still playing around with the amount of salt (it definitely needs more), but toasted, this loaf was awesome.

PRO TIP: instead of spraying or brushing the bottom and sides of the Le Creuset or whichever Dutch oven you are using with oil, I decided to use parchment paper. This way, you'll not have to clean caked on oil residue!

3/11/20

Chocolate Pecan Babka



For years I've wanted to make babka, a dessert made from an egg yolk rich yeasty dough with a chocolate filling, but every time I looked at a recipe, I decided it was too complicated.

It all changed this past weekend when I played a sous baker (is that a thing) and learned how to make a Chocolate Pecan Babka using Peter Reinhart's recipe in the Artisan Breads Every Day. You can see the recipe here

Yes, there were quite a few steps in this recipe and some waiting time, but overall it was pretty straight forward.

The one mishap involved going back to the grocery store to pick up all purpose flour because the accidentally purchased bread flour would not have worked.

I wish you could smell the dough! It had a sweet aroma even before the addition of the semisweet chocolate.

The recipe called for cinnamon, but if you know me, you know how I feel about it. Instead, I suggest using chopped pecans. You can of course use both.


The dough was incredibly easy to roll out. 

Don't skip the streusel topping made from flour, butter, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. It added an extra crunch to the final product (not pictured below).


I think the babka tasted better the next day after all the flavors had a chance to mingle together. It would be fun to add orange zest to either the dough or the filling because orange and chocolate play well together!

3/2/20

Meatless Monday: Aloo Gobi


This week's Meal Prep is entirely inspired by my friend Sangeetha who posted a picture of her aloo gobi on insta story.

Aloo Gobi is a combination of potatoes, cauliflower, and peas with Indian spices. After eating steak a few days in a row, I thought a bright and colorful vegetarian dish would be quite fitting for my meal prep.

I cooked "rice" made from lentils to go with this and packed lunches for the next 3 days.

NOTE: this is my version of the dish. After cooking potatoes and cauliflower directly in the pan, adding spices, and peas, I found my vegetables were under cooked and had to cook them further. The version of the recipe below is how I recommend you cook it instead.

Aloo Gobi
Ingredients
3 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, diced into bite-size pieces
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
olive oil
1-2" piece of ginger, peeled, finely chopped
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1-2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
salt to taste
2 cups defrosted peas

Directions
1. Parboil potatoes and cauliflower (in salted water) separately until each is nearly tender.
2. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet. Heat.
3. Add potatoes and cauliflower to the skillet and saute for 5 minutes.
4. Add fresh ginger and all of the spices and saute until the spices become fragrant.
5. Add defrosted peas and heat through. Make sure potatoes and cauliflower are cooked through.

Optional: top with fresh chiles and cilantro.

2/24/20

Beans & Kale Toast Adapted From Joe Yonan's Cool Beans Cookbook


A few weeks ago I won a copy of Joe Yonan's latest cookbook with a super fun title: Cool Beans.

I grew up eating my mom's white bean, carrot, and beef soup as well as her split pea soup. I then fell in love with hummus, Indian red lentils, French black lentils, and crispy chickpeas.

A cookbook about beans, then, is a welcomed addition to my bookshelf for sure!

The recipe that stood out to me both for its simplicity and its beauty was Garlicky Great Northern Beans And Broccoli Rabe Over Toast.

But................I did not have broccoli rabe, nor did I have the right beans. I decided to reinterpret Joe's recipe using curly kale and the white'ish variety of beans I had in my cupboard.

I soaked the beans according to Joe's instructions and then cooked them in a pressure cooker using two ingredients I would have never paired with beans: whole cloves and kombu (dried seaweed). Special shout out to my friend Sylvie for buying kombu for me.

The cloves and kombu gave a deep earthy flavor to the beans, but you would not be able to identify them without knowing they were there (a good thing in my book).

The rest of the recipe came together quickly: saute the kale in olive oil, add garlic, salt and pepper, and cooked beans with some of the liquid. Top toasted sourdough bread with the kale/bean mixture, drizzle with chili oil, and top with grated Parmesan.

I added a squeeze of Meyer lemon and a sprinkle of Korean chili flakes to my toast to brighten the flavors. 

What a beauty! Leftovers are great as lunch with a baked sweet potato or turned into an omelet.

2/20/20

Challah With Hibiscus Poached Pears, Yogurt, Blueberries & Pistachios

 


If you are like me and love a big breakfast, Challah With Hibiscus Poached Pears, Yogurt, Blueberries & Pistachios should appear on your table this weekend.

By appear, I mean, MAKE it for yourself.

Last weekend I saw a picture of Hibiscus Poached Pears on my friend Laura's instagram and knew I'd want to make them. I followed the recipe from Diana Henry loosely and loved the gorgeous color of the syrup and the pears, but wish it wasn't as sweet.

I then used the pears to pair with toasted challah, Greek yogurt topped with blueberries and pistachios, and drizzled the entire plate with the syrup.

Add freshly squeezed orange juice and hot coffee, and you are set!

2/11/20

Taco Tuesday: Purple Cauliflower Tacos With Garlicky Yogurt Sauce


Welcome to Taco Tuesday! Let me tell you about these gorgeous (tooting my own horn) Purple Cauliflower Tacos With Garlicky Yogurt Sauce.

Last week I received my monthly gifted box of produce from Seasonal Roots which included striking purple cauliflower. Of course it's more about how produce tastes than how it looks, but why not choose a vibrant shade of purple when you get a chance? Even as a little girl I always asked my parents does it come in another color?

After doing a quick internet search for recipes to make with purple cauliflower that will keep the color intact, I found this gem from frieda's for Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower Tacos. I had to make them!

This was the first time I ever used fresh turmeric. It looks like ginger, but has a bright deep orange inside. Because I used frieda's recipe pretty closely, I'm not going to retype it here. Follow the link instead and give them some love!

Instead of flour tortillas I used corn ones and gave them a quick little char directly on my gas stove.

Also, I added a salad of diced fennel and red peppers to the roasted purple cauliflower and a bit of fresh cilantro.

I love anything that has red pickled onions because they brighten up the flavor of any dish, add a deep pink color, and a bit of a crunch.

The only reason I served the garlicky yogurt sauce on the side is for the visual effect. I spooned it over the tacos before eating them and added a squeeze of a fresh lime.

These were stellar and quite filling. 

Note: if you are the first time subscriber to Seasonal Roots, use mangotomato to receive a discount. I'll then receive a bit of credit ;) Thanks for supporting me. This a non sponsored post. As always, all opinions are my own!

2/4/20

Chicken Dip Recipe


A very long time ago, I met one of my best friends: Jenny. Jenny was known for her chicken dip. The what!? Yes, CHICKEN DIP. The dip is a combination of chicken, mayonnaise, cheese, red peppers, salsa, and a few other ingredients. This dip, according to Jenny, is best served with Scoops. I loved that dip and made it several times, and even posted about it on this very blog 11 years ago.

LOOK AT THIS PHOTO!!!!


Luckily, my photography skills have improved, while the dip continues to be stellar!

Last weekend I made the dip again and took new photos. Below is an updated version of the recipe.

Jenny's Chicken Dip

Ingredients
1 poached chicken breast, shredded {or use rotisserie chicken}
2 scallions, sliced
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 mayonnaise
1/2 cup salsa
2/3 cups shredded sharp cheddar
zest and juice of 1 lime
chili powder to taste

to serve
Tostitos Scoops

Directions
1. Combine the dip ingredients in a bowl. Taste and add more mayonnaise or salsa or chili powder as needed.
2. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. Serve with Scoops.


What I learned:
Garnishes make all the difference!!
White shiny plates are hard to photograph.
Backgrounds matter.
Improvement is possible.

1/27/20

Meatless Monday: Rice With Plantains, Fried Egg, And Avocado


I love leftovers (imagine Oprah's I love bread). One of the best things about not eating an entire meal at once is that you have a second meal to look forward to. 

If you don't have enough leftovers to make an entire meal, you can add a few ingredients and turn the leftovers into an entirely new dish.


Over the weekend, my friend Jenn came and brought Peruvian chicken with yucca fries, rice, and plantains. 

I turned the leftovers into a big breakfast, but you can easily eat it for lunch or dinner.


Meatless Monday: Rice With Plantains, Fried Egg, And Avocado

1. In a cast iron skillet, crisp up leftover rice in a bit of olive oil. Add defrosted peas.
2. Reheat plantains.
3. Add a fried egg.
4. Add a sliced avocado.
5. Drizzle with Peruvian green sauce and add a few spoons of salsa.

This was so satisfying!!!

1/23/20

Pomegranate & DIY Leather Earrings


For something a little different, I wanted to share with you my new hobby: making leather jewelry! It all started when my friend Kate bought a pair, and then my twin bought a pair, and then I thought about buying one, but instead made my own!!

Here are a few other examples:



The ones above are made from recycled leather from a wallet! All the earrings have sterling silver hardware and are very light in weight, but big in their presence.

I've had a lot of fun making these and sold a few to friends and a boss's boss's boss!! If you want your own, check out my Etsy page ;)

1/13/20

Turmeric & Black Pepper No Knead Bread


Oh hi first baking project of the year! If you've been somewhere without internet for the last few years, you may have missed the craze of no knead bread. It's a method of baking bread where the stand mixer does most of the work, and you then bake the bread in a cast iron Dutch oven with stunning results.

Last Friday I thought I should make the no knead bread again, but with a twist!

What twist may you ask? Turmeric and black pepper!

I followed this Le Creuset recipe, but added a few pinches of turmeric and about 2 teaspoons of black pepper to my dough.


You should have smelled the aroma of the bread as it was baking. The crust was incredible! The inside of the bread was a gorgeous sunflower yellow color, and I definitely tasted both the turmeric and the black pepper.

The loaf sliced beautifully for toast, and I froze about 2/3 of the slices to avoid eating the entire loaf all at once. 


1/9/20

Chili With Cornbread Croutons


Want to simplify your life? Meal prep will help you with that task. For example, this past Sunday I made a large amount of chili and a cast iron skillet cornbread.

The chili had onions, celery, green pepper, ground beef, cumin, chili, salt & pepper, chickpeas, cannellini beans, pinto beans, defrosted corn, and canned tomatoes. The cornbread started with a Jiffy mix, but I added defrosted corn, sliced jalapeno, and sliced scallions.

I made enough for dinner that night and enough leftovers for 4 lunches. I highly recommend you immediately divide the leftovers into their containers and stack them in the fridge. Each morning it's so easy to grab a container of chili and a small bag with a piece of cornbread to take to work.

Top yours with sour cream and cheese, sliced scallions, and if you want to be extra, diced avocado and fresh salsa.

To make leftovers a bit more fun, if lets say you are working from home, cut the cornbread into bite-size pieces and brown in oil in a cast iron skillet. I slightly burned mine. It happens.

1/7/20

Quick & Easy: Salmon Shakshuka


I debated posting a recipe for Quick & Easy: Salmon Shakshuka because the photo turned out somewhat fugly, but then decided to just go ahead and write about it because the flavor was phenomenal. Yes, I'm not exaggerating.

It all started Saturday morning when I was watching The Kitchen on The Food Network. Michael Symon was the guest and showed his version of shakshuka. Instead of poaching eggs in the tomato sauce, however, he poached white fish!

I thought it was a brilliant idea, and thought I can do something similar with a piece of salmon I had in the refrigerator. I gave my recipe a Mediterranean flavor profile. 


Quick & Easy: Salmon Shakshuka
Serves 1

Ingredients
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 small onion, sliced
1 orange pepper, sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 Serrano pepper, sliced
14-15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
salt & pepper
4-6 ounce salmon filet, skin removed
1-2 tablespoons capers

Directions
1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions, pepper, garlic, and Serrano pepper, and saute for 7 minutes until the vegetables have softened.
2. Add crushed tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Nestle in the salmon filet, and continue to simmer, with a cover on, for 5 minutes.
4. Add capers. Serve.

This dish was fresh and spicy and so satisfying, but without making me feel heavy. I highly recommend you give it a try!

Options: you can add olives instead of capers. You can also add other vegetables such as zucchini.