Avocado Dukkah Toast

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When life gives you extra dukkah, make avocado dukkah toast.

I’m not joking–it’s really good. I told you earlier this week that I’d probably make it, and yesterday, I finally took the plunge. Avocado pairs well with almost anything (in my extremely biased opinion), but it goes especially well with dukkah.

I love the way the salty pistachios, spicy cumin and coriander and crunchy sesame seeds taste with the avocado. If you squeeze some lemon juice on the avocado before you mash it up, it only improves the flavors.

An important part of this dish is the bread (I just hit cap locks by accident, so that almost read: BREAD). I felt like I sold a little piece of my soul the other day when I bought a loaf from the “foodie” section of the bread aisle at Whole Foods. But honestly, it’s worth it. Good bread makes a huge difference for toast. It’s the foundation for everything that comes next.

In other news, I’ve been really into this series that my friend LeAnn introduced me to, Kitchen Vignettes. You should check it out. I like this song from the episode about making cornbread.

Avocado Dukkah Toast (from me, to you)

Ingredients

1 avocado, sliced and pitted
1/2 a lemon
pinch of salt
2 pieces of good bread
a handful of dukkah (recipe here)

Directions

Smash the avocado with the lemon and a pinch of salt. Toast the bread. Spread the avocado mixture on the toast and top with a generous handful of dukkah. Enjoy!

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One Pot Pasta

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I’ve been hearing about this one pot pasta from everyone. My friend Tanya told me about it a couple years ago, but for some reason, I never got around to making it. I think it’s probably because I didn’t have a real pasta pot until recently.

Now, I have a huge pasta pot, so I decided to make it for dinner last week.

Tanya was right: This is one of the easiest and most delicious dinners you can make. The only work involved is slicing cherry or grape tomatoes, chopping onions and boiling water. I don’t like chopping onions, but trust me: the payoff is worth it.

I think I’ve started a one-pot pasta revolution because my friend Steph just made it for dinner, too. Apparently her husband told her she should definitely make it again, so there’s another endorsement.

Something that Steph and I both found when we were making the pasta is that the water takes a while to evaporate. Steph said that she left her pot on the stove for a little too long as a result. I took mine off early when I saw the noodles were cooked through. You can always drain a little water out if you have to later.

Anyway, I would highly recommend making this pasta as soon as possible. Especially on nights when all you want to do is get into your pajamas, crawl into bed and watch new episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

We were having a 90s music power hour at the bakery the other day and this song came on. It’s also good to play while you’re chopping onions or waiting for water to evaporate.

One Pot Pasta (from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients

12 ounces linguine
12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
1 onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 1/2 cups water
freshly grated or shaved Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions

Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, basil, oil, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and water in a large straight-sided skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide among 4 bowls, and garnish with basil. Serve with oil and Parmesan.

Posted in Dinner, Uncategorized, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Cauliflower Dukkah Salad…and Blue

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Two important things happened to me recently: One, I met the love of my life. Two, I decided that I like cauliflower. Now, there’s no going back.

I was sitting at the dog park by my apartment yesterday afternoon and a little cocker spaniel ran up to me and started licking my face and biting my nose. Then, he wouldn’t leave my side. His owner came over and said that he’s never that affectionate with anyone. It was love at first sight.

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The dog (whose name is Blue) laid on my lap while I talked to his owner, Tim. Tim and his wife live in the neighborhood next to the park, and we talked about some of the local restaurants and France (because that always comes out within the first 5 minutes of my conversation with anyone). I hope I run into them both again soon.

In other news, I made a salad and realized that cauliflower is really, really good. I used to hate it when I was little because I thought it was bland and tasteless. When it’s steamed or raw, it kind of is.

But it’s not bland in this salad. I sautéed it in olive oil and then seasoned it with salt and pepper, and tossed it with lemon juice. It was citrusy, fresh and slightly smoky, and paired well with the sweet nectarine, avocado and tart mint.

Also, this dukkah…don’t even get me started. The blogger who made this recipe said that you would want to eat it with a spoon, and I had my doubts. I was wrong. I could eat the whole tupperware container right now, but I’m holding myself back. I’m going to use the leftovers on toast later this week.

ANYWAY. The moral of this story is that you never know when amazing things are going to happen to you. And that most foods, including cauliflower, can taste good if you cook them the right way.

This song has been popping up on my playlist a lot lately. Every time it comes on I start laughing because the lyrics are so clever.

Cauliflower Dukkah Salad (from The First Mess)

Ingredients

for the dukkah:
2 cups roasted & salted pistachios, shells removed (you should have about ¾ cup of nuts total)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon nigella seeds (optional)
½ teaspoon chili flakes (optional)

for the salad:
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used a garlic olive oil, but that’s optional)
1 head of cauliflower, cored and cut into small florets
Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
juice of ½ a lemon, about 1 tablespoon
1-2 nectarines, pitted and sliced
1 small, ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
1 hearty sprig of mint, leaves thinly sliced
big handful of the dukkah

Directions

Make the dukkah: grind the shelled pistachios in either a mortar and pestle, a food processor, or a dry-blade blender pitcher. You want a chunky/chopped consistency with a few large bits of pistachio in the mix. Transfer the ground pistachios to a medium bowl. Grind the coriander and cumin seeds in a spice grinder and add them to the bowl with the pistachios. Add the sesame seeds, nigella seeds and chili flakes to the bowl as well. Stir to combine. Store dukkah in a sealable jar and set aside.

Make the cauliflower salad: heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil to the skillet. Add the cauliflower florets and spread them out in an even layer. Let the cauliflower florets sear for a good two minutes. Stir the cauliflower up and season it with salt and pepper. Cook until the cauliflower is just tender and evenly browned. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.

Transfer the cauliflower to a serving platter. Top the cauliflower with the sliced nectarines, avocado, mint, and a hearty handful of the dukkah. Serve the cauliflower salad immediately.

Posted in Dinner, Lunch, Uncategorized, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pizza Break: Glen’s Garden Market

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In this installment of Pizza Break, I bring you pizza from Glen’s Garden Market.

I’ve been going to Glen’s since I moved to D.C. It’s a gourmet market that has excellent food, including some of the best pizza in the city. The base is thin and light but the crust is thick and chewy. You can tell that all of the ingredients are fresh. I like when places don’t mess around.

This pizza is DEFINITELY not messing around. I’m going to start sounding like a saleswoman for Glen’s, but you should go there and try it immediately (if you’re in the D.C. area) because it’s seasonal. It has mozzarella, tomato sauce, fresh sliced peaches, jalapeños and house smoked ham. It’s kind of like a Hawaiian, but even better because of the peaches. It’s sweet, spicy but also a little smoky–the perfect marriage of flavors.

So yeah…if you’re in Dupont Circle and you’re wondering where to get pizza in a low-key atmosphere, consider Glen’s. You can also browse the market while you wait for the pizza and hold yourself back from buying $19 salt. Or maybe that’s just me.

I’ve been looking for new music lately, and this song came highly recommended. I’ve been listening to it on my walk to work.

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Balsamic Roasted Peach Salad

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This is one of those salads that makes you say “whoa.” It’s so good, you’ll find yourself wanting to eat the whole bowl. I don’t know about you, but that rarely happens to me.

The salad also depends a lot on the ingredients. I bought almost everything fresh from the farmers’ market (including the mozzarella) and I could taste a difference. The peaches were ripe and juicy, the arugula was tart and tangy, and the mozzarella had the consistency of a cloud. Sometimes when I get the cheapest store-bought mozzarella, it tastes like a ball of wax. So I was happy that this worked out.

The original recipe calls for grilling the peaches, but I don’t have a grill. If you do, feel free to follow the original and cook your peaches that way. Broiling is a good back up method, though, and your fruit will still taste delicious.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Fruits Bats this week. Here’s a song I was jamming out to today.

Balsamic Roasted Peach Salad (slightly adapted from Love & Lemons)

Ingredients

for the salad:
2 firm, yet ripe peaches
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 cups baby arugula
fresh mozzarella, sliced
a few dollops of pesto
sprinkle of toasted pine nuts
salt & pepper

for the mint & basil pesto:
1 packed cup of a mix of mint & basil
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted (you could also use walnuts instead)
½ garlic clove, roughly chopped
juice and zest from ½ a lemon
¼ cup olive oil (or more)
a few pinches of red pepper flakes
salt & pepper

Directions

Preheat your oven to broil. Slice the peaches into 6 segments per peach. In a small bowl, toss peaches with olive oil, balsamic, and just a small pinch of salt. Put the peaches in a shallow baking pan and let them broil in the oven until they’re soft and slightly caramelized. Keep an eye on them; you don’t want them to burn.

Meanwhile make the pesto. Combine all ingredients in a small food processor and pulse to combine. Add more oil for a smoother pesto, or leave it chunky – whichever consistency you prefer.

Toss the arugula with just a little bit of olive oil and a few pinches of salt. Assemble on a platter and top with mozzarella slices, peaches, dollops of pesto, and a few pinches of red pepper flakes. Squeeze just a bit of lemon on top and serve.

Posted in Dinner, Lunch, Uncategorized, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chocolate Chip Brioche French Toast

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The best part about working at a bakery is taking home free bread at the end of the night (if there’s any left). These days, there hardly ever is–which is great for business, but not so great for me. Luckily, I managed to snag some chocolate chip brioche last week, and I’ve been letting them go stale in preparation for this brioche French toast.

French toast is called “pain perdu” in French, which literally translated means, “lost bread.” I could see why that would be painful.

It’s really called that, though, to signify the bread that goes stale on the counter after a week. We’ve all been there. Some of us throw the bread away. Others of us make French toast.

This is probably the best French toast I’ve ever had in my life. The chocolate chips melt in your mouth and you don’t even need to add maple syrup. The toast speaks for itself, which is the hallmark of delicious food.

I didn’t use a recipe for this French toast. I was reading David Lebovitz‘s food blog the other day and he said something about how he didn’t follow a recipe to make cherry jam. “Before you panic, remember that your grandmother made lots of things without recipes and without measuring everything down to the last 5/9ths of a teaspoon,” he said. “Just breath.”

He has a point. Even though I think that it’s good for novice cooks and bakers to follow recipes (and even non-novice cooks if you’re dealing with a difficult dish), there’s something to be said about just following your instincts. That’s what I did with this French toast and I’ve never been happier.

Still, I’ll try to remember what I did in case you decide to recreate this dish at home. If you want the brioche bread, you’ll have to come to Un Je Ne Sais Quoi in Dupont Circle. I’d recommend getting there before 1 p.m…we tend to sell out fast;)

Here’s a song that reminds me of this French toast.

Chocolate Chip Brioche French Toast (from me, to you)

Ingredients

1 loaf of chocolate chip brioche bread
2 eggs
1/2 cup almond milk (or another milk of your choosing)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
a pinch of cinnamon
powdered sugar and strawberries for topping

Directions

Cut the brioche bread into about 1/2 to 1-inch thick slices. Crack the eggs into a shallow baking dish. Add the milk, vanilla extract and cinnamon and whisk to combine.

Place the brioche bread slices into the mixture and let them soak about 5 minutes on one side. When the egg mixture has seeped in, carefully turn over and let the slice soak on the other side. Make sure the bread doesn’t get too soggy–you don’t want the slices to fall apart as you transfer them to the frying pan.

Melt some butter in a frying pan over medium high heat. Carefully place the brioche into the pan and let it fry in the butter until one side is golden brown. Flip the bread and let the other side get golden brown.

Remove the slices from the pan and serve with a dusting of powdered sugar and sliced strawberries. Enjoy!

Posted in Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Uncategorized, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vegan Banana Split Smoothie

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When I was walking home tonight, I looked up at the temperature sign on the SunTrust building in Dupont Circle. Why are there two zeroes after a one? I asked myself. Then I realized that it was 100 degrees outside.

After that low point, I decided to go home and make this vegan banana split smoothie. I had the recipe on tap for tonight anyway, but the heat made me even more excited to make it.

It’s the perfect dessert for a hot, humid summer night: the kind that D.C. does best. And this coconut whipped cream…let me tell you. It’s light and fluffy, and if you have an electric mixer, it comes together in minutes. You can save the leftovers (if you have any) for waffles, smoothies or oatmeal.

I’ve been jamming out to this song lately. It’s good for walking down the sidewalk with the sun beating down on you. Or, you know, whenever.

Vegan Banana Split Smoothie (slightly adapted from Minimalist Baker)

Ingredients

for the smoothie:
2 medium-large bananas, ripe, peeled, sliced and frozen
2 tbsp (6 g) cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
1 tbsp (16 g) salted almond butter (if unsalted, add pinch sea salt)
1/4 cup (60 ml) unsweetened almond milk (more depending on preferred thickness)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
optional: 2 pitted dates (for extra sweetness)
toppings:
1 just ripe banana, peeled and sliced lengthwise
coconut whipped cream
ripe cherries
1 tbsp (3 g) shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tbsp (4 g) cacao nibs

for the coconut whipped cream:
1 14-ounce can (414 ml) coconut cream, or full fat coconut milk
1/4 – 3/4 cup (28 – 84g) icing/powdered sugar
optional: 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

for the coconut whipped cream (make in advance):

Chill your coconut cream or coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight, being sure not to shake or tip the can to encourage separation of the cream and liquid.

The next day, chill a large mixing bowl 10 minutes before whipping.

Remove the coconut cream or milk from the fridge without tipping or shaking and remove the lid. Scrape out the top, thickened cream and leave the liquid behind (reserve for use in smoothies).

Note: if your coconut milk didn’t harden, you probably just got a dud can without the right fat content. In that case, you can try to salvage it with a bit of tapioca flour – 1 to 4 Tbsp – during the whipping process. That has worked for me several times.

Place hardened cream in your chilled mixing bowl. Beat for 30 seconds with a mixer until creamy. Then add vanilla (optional) and powdered sugar and mix until creamy and smooth – about 1 minute. Taste and adjust sweetness as needed.

Use immediately or refrigerate – it will harden and set in the fridge the longer it’s chilled.

for the smoothie:

Add frozen banana, cacao powder, almond butter, and almond milk to a blender and blend on low until thick and creamy, scraping down sides as needed. You are looking for a soft serve consistency.

Add vanilla extract and dates (optional), and a bit more almond milk and blend once more until thick and creamy and well blended. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more almond butter for nuttiness, vanilla extract for vanilla flavor, salt for flavor balance, or cacao powder for more intense chocolate flavor. Set blender in freezer or refrigerator while preparing serving glasses.

Cut a banana in half lengthwise and peel. Then slice in half lengthwise again (so you have four pieces). Slide banana wedges down into two serving glasses (or 1 large serving glass, as pictured), and press with a spoon to “adhere” to the sides.

Add smoothie and top with desired toppings, such as coconut whipped cream, cherries, shredded coconut, and cacao nibs.

Best when fresh, but can be covered and frozen up to 2 days. Let thaw before enjoying.

Posted in Dessert, Uncategorized, vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments