Tuesday, June 30, 2015

#323: Baby Bok Choy with Butter Beans and Thyme

This side dish, or quinoa bowl topping, is incredibly simple and fast to prepare.  Bok choy also isn't one of those cumbersome veggies to prep, so that's certainly a plus.  No peeling or chopping through a hard outer shell, woohoo!  I liked adding thyme in here, because as you usually see bok choy in Chinese dishes, using butter beans and thyme allows for a different approach to preparing a bok choy dish, and I have to say I like changing things up a little. Expect the unexpected! 

Baby Bok Choy with Butter Beans and Thyme

1 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
1 pound baby bok choy (about four heads)
One 15-oz can butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cut the stems from the bok choy and the leafy tops into 1 inch pieces.  
  2. Add your oil to a sauce pan or skillet and let it heat up on medium-high heat.  
  3. Add your bok choy stems to the skillet and cook until slightly softened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the butter beans to the pan and let them warm through for about 1 minute.  Then add in your thyme. 
  5. Immediately after adding your thyme add in your bok choy "leafy tops" and let them cook until wilted, about another 1 minute.
This is the perfect side dish for grilled chicken or pork, or include it as a protein filled topping for a quinoa bowl (I tried this out one day for lunch and it was delicious).  

Sunday, June 28, 2015

My Week in Food

Saturday, June 20th:  To celebrate my birthday, Sachin and I spent the day together.  Before a movie, we had a quick juice at Robek's followed by a more unhealthy sandwich at Potbelly.  I think the fact that we shared the Italian should make up for the unhealthiness of it all...think 'half the calories'?

Later that evening we had dinner reservations at Nage, where I ordered the whole roasted Bronzino and Sachin had the Crab Cakes.  We finished the meal with the Pecan Pie for dessert.

Sunday, June 21st:  No better way to bring in my birthday than with Malayali fried fish, olan (a coconut milk and pumpkin curry), and tiramisu for dessert.  I went to my parents and celebrated both Father's Day and my birthday.

Monday, June 22nd: My 30th birthday.  We went to dinner at nearby Kora.  We ordered the Duck Confit Pizza, which came served with caramelized onions, gorgonzola, arugula, walnuts and a sweet cherry sauce.  The pizza had this flavor of delicious buttery rich duck confit balanced off with the sweetness of the cherries.  So good!  Then we shared the Chicken Marsala, which was absolutely delicious and buttery.  The chicken was served with a side of scampi cappelini, so you can understand where the buttery part of the dish came from, but I loved it and downed it pretty quickly.  Kora doesn't seem to have the best Yelp! reviews, which was surprising because even on my second trip there, I have to say I'm happy with the food!

Tuesday, June 23rd: I came across this article, how perfect would this be for a grilled cheese or panini.  You can see it in full action here

Wednesday, June 24th: Oh Google!  All the things you attempt to do, and now you want to be able to count calories from food pictured in Instagram photos? Gotta admit, weirdly enough this has me interested.

Thursday, June 25th:  To commemorate the purchase of my new Samsung Galaxy and departure from the iPhone, I bid farewell to all my Japanese food related emojis with this article explaining what they all are!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

SF Eats: Mama's on Washington Square and Ike's Place

Mama's on Washington Square (rating: B):  Mama's is a San Francisco landmark.  Opening its doors over 50 years ago, it has developed a name for itself in the city.  It is known as the place to go for a reliably delicious brunch.  It definitely met our expectations, but wasn't so delicious as to merit multiple visits, unless I lived around the corner.  

We started off with the Crumb Cake, pictured above, which was crumbly and moist, and nice to share before we plunged into our nicely sized brunch entrees.  N and I shared the the Old Fashioned Pancakes and the Crab Cake Benedict.  The old fashioned pancakes were soft and fluffy, probably more so than any others we've seen before.  N proclaimed that "these are the best pancakes I've ever had!" - a bold statement that was shared to the two college students from Berkeley sitting next to us. They even commented that was a "pretty strong statement," but concurred that they've been taking the 30 minute drive to Mama's every now and again as their post-finals treat and that it is definitely worth it.  

Well, while the pancakes were the star of the show.  The crab cake benedict was definitely lacking.  I probably should've ordered the crab benedict instead, because the crab cake itself was filled with far too much filling and onions - and I love onions!  But, it didn't particularly suit my taste.  So, I would say try for a different benedict, because apparently Mama's is known for having some delicious ones and the florentine and crab did look a lot better.  

Ike's Place (rating: A+):  Ike's Place.  I can't even express my love for this place.  I get starry eyed just thinking of my go-to sandwich - "We're Just Friends" (by the way I love the names of all the sandwiches!).  This sandwich has shredded chicken, avocado and just all around deliciousness.  I like to add in the Godfather Sauce which is spicy and creamy and adds just the right amount of complimentary flavor to the sandwich.  

I think it's the quality of ingredients and the Dutch Crunch bread (a San Fran staple) that makes the sandwiches phenomenal - and the tender juicy shredded chicken.  You can even stuff your sandwich with jalapeno poppers or mozzarella sticks, if you're just that hungry enough.  Sometimes there's a bit of a wait, but I have to say things move along really quickly and it's just worth it.  

N and I took our sandwiches over to Alamo Square to sit on a blanket and have a nice view of the Painted Ladies, the Victorian rowhouses in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

#322: Roasted Beet Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Hard Boiled Egg, By: V

Local? Organic? The variety of vegetables that are available to consumers has seriously grown in the past few years.  Now, at your local grocery store there's a whole section dedicated to organic vegetables.  I picked up a bunch of organic beets, with lush green leafy tops and bright purple stems.  When I arrived back at my apartment I washed them down and cut the tops off the bulbous bottoms.  They were sitting on my chopping block and I thought the simplest way to make them, and to be quite honest, the way to cook them that had me most curious about the resulting taste, was to roast them in the oven. 

I pulled out a baking sheet, chopped up the beets and included the green tops and stems as well.  The whole mixture was tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted for about 35 minutes.  Delicious!! They came out sweet but with this earthy taste.  I mixed a quick lemon and olive oil vinaigrette and tossed the mixture lightly in the dressing.  I didn't want to wilt down the greens with a heavy dressing, so went lightly at first and added more later...I love citrus.  A hard boiled egg on the side finished the meal off with added protein.  This was a simple and great dinner meal for a weeknight, albeit a weeknight when I was patient enough to wait for 35 minutes while my beets roasted instead of stuffing my face upon entering my apartment with the first dish I pull out of the refrigerator.  Try this recipe with beets, and if beets aren't your thing, try this preparation with any root vegetable and/or greens.  

Roasted Beet Salad with Lemon Vinagrette and Hard Boiled Egg - Serves 4

8 beets
1 1/2 tbsps olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Lemon Vinaigrette 
2 tbsps lemon juice
1/2 tsp mustard
4 tbsps olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
black pepper to taste


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  2. Cut the beet off the stems and greens.  Chop up the tops (greens and stems) and keep them to the side. Peel your beets with a vegetable peeler.  Then cut the beets - size doesn't really matter here, bite sized or larger, your preference!
  3. Place the cut beets and tops on a baking sheet, and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast for 35 minutes.  Stir halfway through the baking process just to ensure full roasting on all sides.
  4. While the beets are cooking prepare the lemon vinaigrette.  I like to use a mason jar to prepare salad dressing.  Add all of the ingredients to a jar (or bowl) and shake up the jar (or whisk/stir the bowl) until the vinaigrette is mixed through.
  5. Take the beets and tops out of the oven and place into a bowl.  Add your vinaigrette, just a drizzle at first.  Then you can always add more once the dish is plated, all depending on your taste.
  6. Cut and add a hard boiled egg to your salad.  I like the added protein and creaminess of the yolk.  

Sunday, June 21, 2015

My Week in Food

Saturday, June 13: Nando's Peri Peri - Forgot how much I love their Spicy Garlic sauce!

Sunday, June 14:  Attended my first Langar that a friend's family was hosting at the DC Gurdwara. In the Sikh community, this is an Indian vegetarian meal offered to visitors of the Gurdwara.  The food was delicious!  

Later that night I went to a cook out at my cousin's home.  He picked up some marinated chicken from Halalco, a grocery store in Falls Church.  The meat was so delicious, I definitely went away with a nice little doggy bag, and had lunch for a few days.  

Monday, June 15:  Boss Shepherd's - This southern comfort food restaurant has been on my list for some time now.  A friend treated me to dinner here as an early birthday treat.  Let me just say the fried chicken was phenomenal - crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside.  Below is the steak dish we also ordered, which came with grilled romaine and a creamy lemon dressing. I'll be doing a full review on this one soon enough! 

Tuesday, June 16: Green Turtle - Met up with some friends to watch Game 6 of the NBA Finals.  The Golden State Warriors won, which means no Game 7, and they're the official NBA Champions for 2015.  An honor they last received in 1975. We ordered the Buffalo Chicken Dip and Spicy Meatball Flatbread Pizza to share. 

Wednesday, June 17:  Checked out a local Latino grocery store, Foodway, to buy some ingredients for my Friday night Caribbean themed birthday.  Most of my friends swear that the best avocados are at the Latin markets, and it appears they're right! 

Thursday, June 18:  Most of Thursday was spent prepping for my birthday party, but I managed to sneak in an episode or two of the new Netflix original series "Chef's Table." Check out the trailer on Eater.  I'm very obsessed with this series right now.  

Friday, June 19:  Did anyone know that On The Border caters? Well they do, and today my office hosted an On The Border catered lunch to celebrate the June birthdays in the office. Woohoo pass the guac!

Did you also know that Jennifer Aniston is authoring a cookbook?  What can't she do??? 

Anyway, back to my Friday, I hosted a little cook out to ring in my 30th birthday.  I'll be posting soon about my Caribbean themed menu.  Look out for pictures on our Instagram account too! 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Richmond, VA Eats: Cha Cha's Cantina, The Black Sheep and Tarrant's Cafe

Almost two months back, Sachin and I went down to Richmond, Virginia for my friend, Zeenia's wedding.  A wedding where I, for the first time, hosted the reception! Well, co-hosted with a very close college friend of mine.  But, I'm jumping the gun.  I went to college in Richmond and several of my undergrad friends still live in the city or surrounding areas.  While I moved back up to D.C., I still have a spot in my heart for the city of Richmond.  The food, culture and the people are refreshing, warm and I just love it.  

As a Jersey boy in his own right, Sachin thought Richmond was "down south," but I'm not sure if I totally agree with that.  I guess I expect the people in an area to sound like their off the Andy Griffith Show to truly be categorized as "down south."  But, to each his own! However, you classify Richmond, it is a great city with amazing restaurants.  A lot of restaurateurs and chefs in D.C. and other east coast cities, found their stomping grounds in Richmond.  Because of the low rental costs, starting a restaurant in Richmond is conducive for newbies in the food industry who want to test out their recipes and restaurant's potential for success.  While there are those that stick around, others move on to bigger cities.  This can be both good and bad.  While it's great to see successes, we also don't want to lose our on our favorite Richmond restaurants packing up and moving elsewhere!  So, I guess all there is to do, is to enjoy them while we have them in Richmond.  
I took Sachin to three great restaurants: one college classic hang out, one new place I've wanted to try, and a great brunch spot I discovered post-undergrad on one of my many trips to Richmond. 

Cha Cha's Cantina (Rating: B) is an old school Richmond spot, and a main stay for college students in the area.  But, it isn't just your old boring Mexican food, this place offers delicious Tex-Mex at very reasonable prices.  I ordered the Chipotle Chicken Quesadilla, which was delicious.  It came with this shredded chicken that was doused in a delicious chipotle sauce. Sachin ordered the Southwest Shrimp Tacos which were served topped with a roasted corn and avocado relish, fresh mango, and an avocado vinaigrette.  The shrimp was delicious! I have to say Richmond always offers great seafood (must go to Croaker's Spot)! We sat outside at Cha Cha's since the weather was  unseasonably warm for mid-April, and we enjoyed a big pot of coffee because all the wedding festivities from the night before had us tired!

The Black Sheep (Rating: A-) is one of Yelp's top rated sandwich shops in Richmond, and I think all of the customer reviews lived up to my expectations.  The bread used for these sandwiches is absolutely delicious and soft, and the perfect amount of chewy.  I ordered the USS Wyoming (at the bottom of the picture) which is a grilled marinated tofu sandwich topped with pickled daikon radish and carrots, jalapenos,  and cucumber.  The bread is slathered with this delicious garlic chili eggplant mayonnaise - um, YES, how delicious does that sound?! I wish they bottled this stuff!  Sachin ordered the USS Roanoke (at the top of the picture) which was served on a a toasted french baguette smeared with a mixed fruit mostarda, with thin slices of turkey and provolone, topped with crispy prosciutto, arugula and peppadew peppers.  So good!  All in all The Black Sheep will be visited by me every time I'm down in Richmond - my favorite sandwich spot.  Loved it!  Too bad I didn't get to Carytown Burgers and Fries - this is probably home to my favorite burgers! 

Tarrant's Cafe  (Rating: A+) heard about from my old college roommate.  She mentioned having brunch here and recommended it prior to one of my visits to Richmond.  I went, and I loved it, and knew I had to take Sachin.  I've tried other places in Richmond for brunch such as LuLu's and Millie's Diner, which are both fantastic and offer some great "stick to your ribs" breakfast grub, but I have to say that Tarrant's has always been my favorite.  So, I told my old college roommate to meet Sachin and I there for brunch before we hit the road back to D.C.  She brought her husband and two kids, who all enjoyed this restaurant as much as she and I did.  

Sorry, I forgot to take pictures here.  The food was too amazing for me to pause, but I'll try to describe in detail.  Sachin ordered this Breakfast Pizza that was one of the specials for the day.  It was served with a cracked egg over the top, layers of bacon and delicious cheese all over.  It was awesome!  I ordered the Belgian Waffle which was topped with strawberries, blueberries, whipped cream and candied pecans.  Perfectly topped without tasting too sweet or filling.  Tarrant's is definitely a staple brunch place in Richmond.  The restaurant was full and I love the decor and southern feel you have when you enter the restaurant itself.  One to try out on any trip to Richmond. 

Well, I didn't even get into how the wedding itself was.  It was great.  So good to see old friends!  And, for the hosting duties, I think they went well, but I'll pass the mic on for the next friend's wedding!  

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

#321: Baked Spaghetti Squash Al Forno

Al forno in Italian cuisine is basically a dish that has been baked in the oven.  Really this can be used to describe lasagna, baked ziti, and all of the other delicious cheesy Italian dishes you can think of.  I pretty much love anything topped with homemade marinara and cheese.  It just makes you feel all warm and gooey inside, and ready to sleep immediately after. 

In lieu of making a pasta dish, I found all these recipes on pinterest for Spaghetti Squash prepared in this "al forno" style.  A halved spaghetti squash topped with marinara and cheese sounded like the easiest dish to prepare for a quick week night dinner.  Well, I soon found out as a newbie to the world of spaghetti squash, I was ill prepared to handle this vegetable's hard outer shell!  I was in the kitchen prepared with one of my sharpest knives and a towel to rest the squash on, planning to rotate as I cut through the squash, oh so delicately and professionally, with the expertise of a Michelin Chef...FAIL.  It was so difficult to do!! So, I put the squash back in my fridge hoping to try another day.  Luckily I was telling N about my struggles, she then informed me that in fact you can bake the whole squash until the outside skin softens at which point it is much easier to cut in half.  Genius!  So, I happily went back to preparing this dish.  

While my squash didn't turn out looking quite as beautiful as this one, the recipe is similar and this was the catalyst for my similar creation....ok, it's the same, except it doesn't look quite as perfect!! 

In any case, try this one out and see how you like it!

Baked Spaghetti Squash Al Forno

1 spaghetti squash
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1-2 cups shredded cheese (mozarella or cheddar)
1/4 cup grated parmesan 

For Sauce: 
2 tbsps olive oil
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1/2 red onion, diced finely


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Rub about 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil all over the outside of the spaghetti squash.  Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.  Take it out and let cool on a cutting board for about 5 minutes.  
  2. Half your spaghetti squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds inside.
  3. Rub 1/2 tbsp of olive over cut side of squash halves and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for 30 - 45 minutes, until the strands can be scraped.  It will cook more later.
  5. Remove from oven and scrape the squash into strands.
  6. While the squash is baking you can make your tomato sauce.  Put onion, garlic, tomatoes and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Keep on low simmer for 45 minutes.  Remove from heat. 
  7. Loosen the strands of squash inside the squash. Top with a couple tablespoons of sauce and cover with a 1/2 - 1 cup of shredded cheese.  Grate lightly with parmesan on top.  Put under broiler for 4 minutes.  Top with salt and pepper and eat!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

#320: Chicken Meat Loaf Muffins, By: V

This little guy looks tame enough, right?  Well, lets just say this isn't your mom's typical meatloaf.  Made with ground chicken these muffin-tin mini loaves are so easy to toss into a salad or alongside a delicious pilaf.  Plus the harissa, garam masala and vegetable mixture gives the loaves spicy heat and layers of flavor.  

Quick tip:  When you put them in the wells, use your thumb to make a thumprint into the top of each loaf, it will allow for the loaves to cook through well.

You can get Mina Harissa at your local Whole Foods, but now you can pretty much find harissa (a Morrocan red pepper sauce) everywhere, and it's amazing! It's even good on top of triscuits (my recent snack of choice).

Chicken Meat Loaf Muffins

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
  • 3/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
For the Tomato Mixture:
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp harissa
  1. Preheat oven to 400  degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Grease the wells of your muffin tin with 1 tbsp olive oil or Pan spray
  3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet
  4. Add 3/4 cup finely diced onion (feel free to add any other veggies you would like - bell peppers or mushrooms are great options)
  5. Let veggies cook for two minutes and then allow to cool down
  6. In a small bowl combine: 1/3 cup tomato paste, 2 cloves garlic (minced/chopped), 1 tbsp mustard, 1 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp worchestershire sauce, and 1 tbsp harissa 
  7. In large bowl mix meat, veggie mixture, 1 large egg, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp paprika, and 1 tbsp garam masala.
  8. Stir in half of the tomato mixture
  9. Combine and form into rounded large meatballs to fit into the muffin tin - or just spoon them in, until they are slightly above pan edge
  10. Bake for 10 minutes
  11. During this time bring the remaining tomato mixture to low heat on the stove and reduce down until it coats the back of a spoon.
  12. After the meat loaf muffins have baked for 10 minutes, take them out of the oven and top each with the remaining tomato mixture. Bake for another 15 minutes and serve.

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