7/14/20

Warm Potato & Crispy Chickpea Tacos with Feta & Zhoug


It's Taco Tuesday! Not that I need a reason or an excuse to make tacos. These Warm Potato & Crispy Chickpea Tacos with Feta & Zhoug were inspired by a container of zhoug I picked up at Trader Joe's yesterday:

"Zhoug (pronounced ZOOg) likely originated in Yemen, and is now popular throughout the Middle East. It’s a cilantro-based sauce/condiment that’s been likened to “Middle Eastern pesto,” but we think that description shortchanges the originality of this spicy, fragrant, fabulously flavorful culinary creation.
It’s a sauce that’s taking the internet by storm – from food blogs to social media feeds, Zhoug is having its moment in the digital sun. And it's about to have its moment in our stores!
Trader Joe’s Zhoug Sauce comes to us from a California vendor well-versed in the art and science of Middle Eastern foods. Here, they’ve put together a very straightforward collection of ingredients – cilantro, canola oil, jalapeƱo peppers, chile flakes, garlic, cardamom, sea salt, and cumin seeds – to create a sauce/dip/spread/condiment that bursts with vibrant flavor and color."
I've used zhoug as salad dressing, mixed with mayo for sandwiches, as an added flavor in cooked lentils, etc. 
Warm Potato & Crispy Chickpea Tacos with Feta & Zhoug
corn tortillas, heated on direct flame, until blustered
red potatoes, cubed, cooked until tender in salted water, kept warm
olive oil
cooked chickpeas
arugula
feta, crumbled
kalamata olives, pitted, chopped
avocado, diced
salt
zhoug
lime juice
1. Heat olive oil in a skillet, add chickpeas and saute until crispy. Add arugula and saute until it wilts.
2. Place warm potatoes on the bottom of corn tortillas and top with the chickpea/arugula mixture, crumbled feta, olives, and diced avocado. Season with salt.
3. Spoon zhoug sauce over tacos and add a bit of lime juice. 

7/10/20

Crystallized Ginger, Dried Cherries & Tangerine Zest Buttermilk Scones


What can you do with crystallized ginger? That's the question my friend Sylvie asked me when we hung out this past Monday. SCONES was my answer.

Alas, her daughter did not feel like baking scones, so we made friendship bracelets, went on a walk to see turtles, had a dance party, watched episodes of Bluey, and made lasagna.

But the idea of scones lingered in my mind. I found a recipe for basic buttermilk scones on Wild Wild Whisk blog and added chopped crystallized ginger, dried cherries, and zest from 3 tiny tangerines.

The recipe could not be easier to follow. I wish I would have refrigerated the dough before cutting it into scones and also that I would have made them smaller. The scones turned out the size of my head (maybe a slight exaggeration!), and I'm planning on cutting them in half and freezing most of them.

These are slightly sweet with great crumbly texture, and a great flavor coming from the add ins. I'm looking forward to eating one of them Saturday morning with iced tea!

7/8/20

No-Knead Sandwich Bread & Ricotta Toasts


I've been baking no-knead bread for years, but this is the first time I baked it in a loaf pan instead of a large Dutch oven. This happened because my twin sister told me she found a recipe for no-knead sandwich bread and was going to bake it. After she did so successfully, I decided to make a loaf as well.

This recipe was even easier than the one I typically use. AND it comes from my friend Carey!

First, I combined all the ingredients (I halved the recipe) in a bowl with a wooden spoon: no need for a stand mixer.

Second, although the recipe requires the dough to rise for 5 hours, that's not really a negative. I have plenty of time. The dough bubbled up amazingly well.

Third, you can then put the dough into the refrigerator for days!!! This develops the flavors and gives you a bit of a breather.

The final product was lovely: salty, slightly yeasty, with soft texture. I liked the bread both as is dipped in olive oil, and also toasted. 


It's also awesome as toast! I slathered both slices with home made ricotta from my friend Sylvie, and topped one with tomatoes, basil, and salt, and the other with grapes and chocolate halva.

This recipe will definitely go into rotation.


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!