Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 10 Reader Favorites of 2015

It's the last day of 2015.  New Year's is one of my favorite holidays, which surprises most, but I genuinely enjoy taking time to look over all the amazing moment of the past year, and getting excited for what's to come in the next year.  To me it feels like the start of a new chapter and the beginning of things.  Also, it's a great opportunity to spend time with your loved ones, eat good food and pop some bubbly!  

Before we get into the celebrations, I wanted to share with you the top 10 recipe favorites (based on readers).  It's great to see the variety of recipes people enjoyed, but also funny to see how much salmon and kale was on the 2015 recipes, and of course, the #1 spot went to a dessert - not much of a shocker there!! 

Hope you all enjoy taking a look through the top 10 and of course, having one amazing New Year!! :) 


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

#341: Salmon Tikka

The word 'tikka' means bits or pieces.  Chicken tikka is one of the most popular tikka dishes, but we shouldn't forget the delicious paneer tikka, aloo (potato) tikka and today's recipe for salmon tikka.  Tikka dishes are cooked over hot coals, and are marinated in yogurt and spices.  Tandoori chicken and chicken tikka are so similar, but generally, tikka dishes are boneless, so you can get right to that charred meat!  

This dish is best served with naan and raita (cucuber and yogurt), but is also delicious with quinoa (think Indian quinoa bowl) or on top of a salad.  Considering we're right around the corner from New Year's (my favorite holiday!), I think this would be great on a small toothpick (skewer one salmon, one red pepper piece, and one onion piece), and passed around before ringing in 2016!  Happy New Year!! 

Salmon Tikka
18 oz. salmon fileet, skinless, boneless and cubed
1 red pepper, cubed
1 small red onion, cubed (small cubes)
2 green chilies, each cut into three pieces
1 teaspoon olive oil (to grease the pan)

For Marinade:
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped fine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardomom 
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of black pepper
  1. In a bowl whisk together all of the ingredients for the marinade and set aside.  
  2. Place the salmon, peppers and onions in a bowl with two chopped green chilies; pour the marinade over the mixture.  Let sit in the refrigerator overnight (or at least for 2 hours).  I had marinated and frozen mine, thawed it when I was ready to use, and it was still delicious! 
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with foil and grease with the oil.
  4. Place the salmon, onions, peppers and chilies on the baking tray, removing any excess marinade.  Cook for 15 minutes.  Flip and drain off any liquid that is in the pan.  Cook for another 15 minutes.   
  5. The salmon should flake easily when cut into with a fork, then you know it's done.  Take out of the oven and let cool before serving.  

Sunday, December 27, 2015

My Week In Food

Sunday, December 20, 2015:  Brunch at Farmers, Fishers, Bakers in Georgetown.  

Monday, December 21, 2015:  Chicken Spinach Alfredo Pizza for dinner.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015:  Eggs (with sriracha), toast, sausage and cucumber with sour cream, dill and a bit of paprika.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015:  Italian Cookies from Moio's Pastry Shop in Pittsburgh.

Thursday, December 24, 2015:  Day off work means homemade Pav Bhaji for lunch.  


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

#340: Vegetarian Pho

My mom recently went to visit my sister, N, in Santa Clara.  Yes, the San Francisco sister has moved a little further south toward San Jose!  In any case, while my mom was out there, she came across a dry spice mix that is the base for a vegetarian pho broth.  She excitedly brought it back to D.C. with her and we decided to try it out.  Also, while we thought this pho base was super unique, turns out you can get pho bases at Trader Joe's and of course, on Amazon. 

Our family loves pho, and during the cold weather months, it is the perfect dish to warm up with. Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup that at its base is made of an incredibly delicious broth flavored with anise and ginger.  Then, once you get your bowl of this piping hot soup, you can top it with lime, jalapenos and all sorts of delicious toppings, which just add to the flavor of the soup.  The best part is, even though we all might have the same pho, we each turn it into its own unique soup with how much we add into our bowls.  For example, my mom loves adding extra limes to give the soup a tangy taste, while I love the heat from adding sriracha and jalapenos, and N loves the cool and crunchy texture you get from adding bean sprouts. 

Try making your own unique pho!

Vegetarian Pho with Shitake Mushrooms and Bok Choy

6 green onions, thinly sliced
6 cups chopped bok choy
64 ounces vegetable broth or water mixed with a dry vegetarian pho spice mix (pho soup base)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Shitake mushrooms, tough stems removed (I personally like keeping them in, but to each his own)
14 ounces rice noodles, cooked per package instructions
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
hoison sauce, sriracha (rooster sauce), bean sprouts, lime wedges, jalapenos and Thai basil (to taste)


  1. In a large pot combine vegetable broth (or water + dry vegetarian pho spice mix) with grated ginger, soy sauce and green onion.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the mushrooms.  Continue to simmer for 5 minutes.  
  3. Add in bok choy.  Simmer for 3 minutes.  
  4. Place noodles in a bowl and pour the broth and veggie mixture over the noodles. 
  5. Top with a handful of bean sprouts, two lime wedges, jalapenos, cilantro, sriracha and hoison sauce to your desired taste.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

VA Eats: Earls Kitchen + Bar

After a long Monday, Mirona met up with me for dinner in a new section of Tysons Corner Center.  For those of you not from the area, Tysons Corner is a pretty large mall that has been in the northern Virginia area for years.  It is home to a ton of great restaurants, and now has welcome in a few more.  So, we decided to check out Earls Kitchen & Bar.  Cute story, but it’s called ‘Earls’ without an apostrophe, because the two owners share the same name, Earl.  Funny, huh? 

In any case when we walked in the place was packed.  Surprising for a Monday night in McLean, Virginia.  While we waited for our table to be ready, we enjoyed a cocktail that literally tasted like a lemon meringue pie in a glass.  That would sound good, but this was completely frozen, and not exactly my cup of tea, but the meal more than made up for my feelings on this frozen beverage. 

Mirona ordered the Baby Back Ribs, which were falling off the bone and just melted in your mouth.  They were incredible, and I was truly surprised!  I’m  particular about my ribs, and generally only order them at southern/soul food restaurants or small hole-in-the-wall joints.  For me, I just imagine that they would have better ribs than a more “fancy” restaurant.  But, boy was I wrong.  These ribs were made by someone who definitely knows what they’re doing.  The barbeque sauce was sweet and smoky, without overpowering the natural smoky flavor of the pork ribs.  So delicious!

I ordered the Jerusalem Salad.  This arugula based salad, comes served with a preserved lemon dressing, assorted colorful tomatoes, cucumbers, Moroccan spiced chicken breast and a delicious sumac yogurt.  Oh, and the pita chips crumbled into the salad.  It was a great contrast of flavors, crunchy chips and cucumber with spicy chicken and creamy yogurt – fantastic!  I would highly recommend it!  I definitely want to check out Earls again. 

Rating:  B

Thursday, December 3, 2015

VA Eats: The Wharf

About a month ago we were deciding on a restaurant to go to for my mom's birthday.  Now, in the past few years, my mom's diet has been more vegetarian and pescatarian, so I thought a good idea would be to try out a seafood restaurant.  In the D.C. area, besides The Wharf in D.C. a great option more seafood restaurants is Old Town Alexandria.  As an aside, our family use to go to The Wharf all the time growing up.  Being from Kerala (in India) we eat a ton of seafood, so my mom was always looking for markets selling the freshest fish, and when we discovered The Wharf it reminded us of the fish markets and quality of fish in Kerala.  

In any case, sometimes for a more convenient trip and a little fancier style of dining, Old Town Alexandria is a great option.  My parents favorite seafood place in that neighborhood is The Fish Market, but with a limited seating area, we decided to check out The Wharf.  Now, sorry to confuse you, but The Wharf is the name of a restaurant in Old Town, not just the name of the area in D.C.  My mom, dad and I went to The Wharf for lunch on a chilly Saturday afternoon. None of us had dined there before, so with low expectations going in, we were pleasantly surprised.  

My parents both ordered the She Crab Soup, a spicy crab soup with cream and sherry.  I definitely should have ordered one myself - this soup was absolutely delicious, even better than the more common Manhattan (or Maryland) styled chowders we usually order.   I also enjoyed the nice side salad which was dressed with a honey mustard vinaigrette - great flavor!

A friend of my mom's recently introduced her to raw oysters, and she is now obsessed.  She's reeled my dad onto the raw oysters team too.  So, we had to place an order.  These were a little more briny than I care for, but my mom seemed to enjoy that flavor.  That's the case with oysters though, it really depends on what you like - clean + fresh, briny, creamy (I hate creamy!). 
My mom and I both ordered one of the specials of the day, the salmon stuffed with crab and crawfish, with a lemony cream sauce poured over.  This dish was mediocre, nothing spectacular, but just ok.  

On the other hand, my dad's order should probably get a little more attention and praise. He ordered a classic, fish and chips. Huge pieces of fish, huh?  They were fried to perfection, and the chips...well they were perfectly crispy on the outside and creamy soft on the inside.   I know this review is supposed to be about The Wharf, and while the chips were amazing (think crunchy outside, basically like mashed potatoes on the inside), I have to say Eammon's in Old Town Alexandria is even better, sorry The Wharf! 

All in all, while the soup was great, I'm not sure anything else I had at this restaurant merits a return visit.  

Rating:  C 

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