Indian Apple Slaw Sandwich

Apple Tadka 2

I saw a Chef Geoffrey Zakarian post a short video about a contest for Kitchen Aid. I was immediately interested. Prizes include Kitchen Aid appliances and most importantly cooking lessons from Geoffrey Zakarian himself! The challenge was to create an original recipe using apples. I was intrigued by this because I haven’t cooked with apples in a long time! I decided to create something fresh, simple, summery, and savory. That led me to create an Indian Open Faced Apple Slaw Sandwich with Avocado Chutney. Think of it as an Indian take on the traditional Thai papaya salad served on Indian bread.

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Apple Slaw:

  • 1 Granny Smith Apple – very thinly sliced (similar to the way raw papaya is cut for Thai papaya salad)
  • fresh lime juice from half a lime
  • handful fresh cilantro – chopped
  • 1/2 inch thick fresh ginger – grated
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 4-5 Indian curry leaves
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 serrano chili – halved and thinly sliced
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 pieces of Indian pau buns or the bottoms of regular hamburger buns
  • handful of red cherry tomatoes – quartered

Avocado Chutney:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp water
  • fresh lime juice from 1/4 lime
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

1. Making the ‘Tadka.’ In a small pot/skillet, pour in a little less than 1/8 cup of vegetable oil. Place over medium-high flame. Sprinkle in the black mustard seeds and as soon as they begin popping, add in the curry leaves and immediately step back – these pop and splash oil around. Be careful! Once they curry leaves calm down, add in the sliced serrano chili. Saute for 30 seconds then remove from flame. Yes, it is oily, but don’t fear. That is intentional. Let the mixture cool.

2. In a blender, add in the avocado, water, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, and lime juice. Blend until smooth. Taste – may need some more salt.

3. Toast the bread on each side until golden – I do this in a non-skillet pan over the stove.

4. In a bowl, toss together the sliced apple, lime juice, salt, pepper, ground cumin, chili powder and cilantro. Add in the tadka mixture with the oil – this will combine with the juices from the apple and lime to almost create a light dressing. Toss everything together well.

5. Place the toasted bun bottoms on a serving dish. Spread on a heaping spoon of the avocado chutney, top with a generous amount of apple slaw, garnish with a couple pieces of quartered cherry tomatoes and chopped cilantro. Serve!

Mini Italian Grilled Cheese

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Grilled cheese is usually thought of as a something one used to eat as a kid. But more and more I’m seeing this gourmet grilled cheeses – trucks, shops, etc. Melt Shop and Murrays Cheese Bar are a few popular places. I feel that these places are good, but honestly quite mediocre for that they charge – upwards of $7-$8?! I know that I can make a better sandwich, and that is exactly what I did! Behold – the deliciously creamy and gourmet Mini Italian Grilled Cheese, NOMZ.

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Mini Italian Grilled Cheeses: 

  • 4 slices white bread – I used Pepperidge farm country white bread
  • 5-6 slices fresh mozzarella
  • 6-7 basil leaves
  • 1 large white onion – finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp red crushed pepper
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp unsalted butter (I know, I know)
  • PAM original flavor

Summer Salad:

  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dry basil leaves
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch of red crushed pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil

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1. In a large bowl add all ingredients except for salad and oil. While whisking, drizzle in olive oil until dressing emulsifies. Toss in mixed greens, and set aside until ready to serve.

1. In a medium non-stick skillet, place over medium-low flame, and heat 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add in 1 tbsp butter and swirl around in olive oil until it starts bubbling. Add in the chopped onion. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle with a hefty pinch of salt and black pepper. Reduce flame to low, and saute for about 10-15 minutes. Onions should become lightly golden brown and caramelized looking. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. Place 2 slices of bread on the cutting board. Spray or butter one side then flip over. Using the same pan that you cooked the onions in, place over medium-low flame. Add one of the butter sides down in the pan (no need to add oil or spray, as there is residual grease from the onions). Place down 2 1/2 slices of fresh mozzarella, 1 hefty tbsp of caramelized onions, sprinkle of red crushed pepper and black pepper, and 3-4 basil leaves (depending on size). Add the other bread slide, with the butter side facing up. Flip after about 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown. Cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes until golden brown and cheese is melted. Remove and cut into 4 quarters. Repeat with the additional 2 slices of bread.

3. Serve with salad.

ENJOY your cheesey goodness!

‘Falafel’ Chickpea Burgers with Arugula & Tzatziki

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I really like falafels, but I don’t like that they’re fried and tend to be greasy and then I feel guilty for eating them. Who wants to feel guilty when you’re stuffing your face?! Wait.. that’s an oxymoron. Oh well. I wanted falafel one evening so I whipped up a healthier “burger” version that is pan-seared and packed with all the Greek falafel flavors. And best of all, this recipe can be totally vegan!

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‘Falafel’ Chickpea Burger:

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  • 1 can chickpeas – drained and rinsed, patted dry
  • 1 medium red onion – finely chopped
  • 1-2 jalapenos/serranos – minced
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp fried oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley or dried parsley
  • 1 clove garlic – minced
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • PAM Cooking Spray

1. Add all ingredients (except for the cornstarch) to a food processor and pulse until blended, but not totally smooth. Take out into a mixing bowl, and sprinkle in the cornstarch and mix by hand until incorporated. Make into Patties – should make 4-5 thick patties. Pat dry with a paper towel, as access moisture will slow the cooking process.

2. In a medium non-stick skillet over medium-high flame, spray with PAM and add 2-3 patties at a time. Sear 5 minutes on each side, or until dark brown and cooked through. Remove to cool.

Tzatziki:

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  • 1/4 lowfat yogurt/vegan yogurt
  • 2-3 tbsp reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh chopped dill or 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 clove garlic – minced
  • salt
  • black pepper

1. Mix all ingredients and set aside.

Arugula Salad:

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  • 1 bag/package arugula
  • 1 clove garlic – minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • couple tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of black pepper

1. In a large bowl, add in all ingredients except for the oil and arugula. Drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing emulsifies. Add in the arugula and lightly toss until coated.

Assembly ingredients:

  • crumbled feta
  • sliced roma tomatoes
  • sliced English cucumber

1. On a serving plate, add 1-2 patties, pile high with arugula salad, sliced tomato, sliced cucumber, and feta. Drizzle with Tzatziki and serve more on the side. Enjoy!

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Mexican Baked Eggs

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Do you ever go out for weekend brunches and order those delicious “baked egg” dishes that come in a little cast iron skillet bubbling away in a savory sauce and gooey with cheese? Yeah, I’m salivating just thinking about it. I wanted to re-create that at home, but without all the oil and general fat. So (as I usually do), I made up a recipe using some of my favorite flavors, and it came out so good! I made this dish for a big group, so I just baked it in one large oven-proof casserole, but it can be easily turned into individual egg dishes.

Serves 4-6

Sauteed Veggie Mix:

  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 2 jalapenos – sliced
  • 1 medium white onion – thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic – chopped
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • squeeze of lemon/lime juice
  • PAM olive oil flavor

1. In a medium non-stick skillet spray with PAM and set over medium flame. Add cumin seeds and roast for about 20-30 seconds until fragrant. Add onions and garlic and saute for about 2 minutes until slightly softened. Add in the spinach – little at a time to wilt so all of it can fit in the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute for a good 5 minutes until completely soft, but not mushy. Squeeze in the lemon juice. mix. Taste. Set aside.

Roasted Red-Pepper and Tomato Garlic Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup good quality roasted pepper – drained and chopped
  • 1 medium beefsteak tomato – chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro – chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic – chopped
  • 1/2 small white onion – chopped
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • lemon juice – squeeze from about 1/4 lemon
  • 1 tsp no salt/low sodium taco seasoning
  • PAM Olive Oil flavor

1. In a medium sauce pan spray with PAM, set over medium flame and add onions and garlic. Saute for a minute then add roasted peppers and tomatoes, cumin powder, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir and reduce flame to medium-low/low. Continue cooking until tomatoes start breaking down. You may need to add 3-4 tbsp of regular water to loosen the mixture. Once the peppers and tomatoes break down -after about 8 minutes or so, taste for salt and seasoning. Add more accordingly. Once the sauce is broken down and incorporated together, add in the cilantro and lemon juice. Using a hand blender, blend until smooth. Taste again for salt and pepper. Set aside.

Spicy Cumin Salt:

  • 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

1. Mix ingredients together. Set aside.

Pico de Gallo:

  • 2 beefsteak tomatoes – chopped
  • handful cilantro – chopped
  • 2 scallion stalked – chopped
  • squeeze of lemon juice from half a lemon
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 jalapeno – chopped

1. Mix all ingredients together, set aside.

Assembly Ingredients:

  • 8 eggs – separated. I used only the whites
  • 8-12 corn tortillas
  • 2 ripe avocados – sliced
  • 1-2 cups (depending on how cheesy you like it) reduced fat shredded sharp cheddar/mexican cheese blend
  • handful fresh cilantro – roughly chopped
  • PAM Olive Oil flavor

1. Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Spray a medium oven-proof casserole dish with PAM. Pour about 3/4 of the sauce at the bottom of the dish. Spread out evenly. Then top evenly with the sauteed veggie mix. Make about 8 holes to fit the eggs. Drop 1 eggwhite (or if using the yolk then 1 egg)  in each of the holes. Top generously with the shredded cheesy. Then sprinkle about 1-2 tbsp worth of cumin salt all over the top of the eggs.

2. Place in the oven uncovered for about 25 minutes, or until the eggs are completely cooked through and cheese is melted. Remove and let cool slightly.

3. While the eggs are in the oven, toast the tortillas directly on the flame over a stove until slightly charred on the edges. Set aside.

4. On a serving plate, place 1-2 tortillas, spread with about 2 tbsp of reserved sauce, scoop out 1 eggs worth of the baked eggs onto the tortilla, top with 2-3 sliced avocado, pico de gallo. Serve!

 

Triple Berry Summer Compote

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There’s something deliciously satisfying and cooling about warm fresh toppings on creamy and cool ice cream. Berries are the best during the summer time, and we tend to buy tons of them in our house. But as you know, they don’t have a very long shelf life. That’s when I make this delicious mixed berry compote. Super easy to make, requires minimal work, and stores nicely in the fridge for a week. It’s great simply on top of ice cream, or to make a trifle with, on top of pound cake – you name it, it’s good.

Triple Berry Compote:

  • 1/4 Rasberries
  • 1/4 Strawberries – quartered
  • 1/4 Blueberries AND/OR
  • 1/4 Blackberries
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fresh orange zest
  • handful of fresh mint leave
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Vanilla Ice Cream – for serving

1. Place berries, sugar, lemon juice, orange zest, water, 3-4 torn mint leaves into a small sauce pan/pot. Set over medium-low flame and stir until sugar is dissolved. Reduce flame to low and continue cooking and stirring until mixture of berries begins to break down and become thick. You want the colors of the berries to still retain a bit – don’t boil down to the point where you can’t make out what’s in it! Remove from the heat and let cool a bit.

2. Serve of vanilla ice cream and top with fresh chopped mint. Enjoy!

Creamy Egg Scramble with Cilantro-Mint Pico de Gallo & Spicy Crema

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Want some eggs? Want to make them fast but not skimp out on the flavor? Check it (this serves 1 person):

Creamy Egg Scramble:

  • 3-4 jumbo egg whites
  • 1/2 small red onion – chopped
  • 1 jalapeno – chopped
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • pinch of ground cumin
  • 2-3 tbsp reduced fat shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • PAM Original Flavor

Cilantro-Mint Pico de Gallo:

  • handful of cherry tomatoes – quartered
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro – chopped
  • couple leaves mint – chopped
  • lime juice from 1/8 of a lime
  • salt
  • black pepper

Spicy Crema:

  • 2 tbsp reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 tsp fat free half & half
  • 1 tsp no salt added taco seasoning

1. In  small bowl mix together all pico de gallo ingredients and set aside. In another small bowl, mix together all crema ingredients and set aside. Crema should be almost a thick and liquidy consistency. Add more half & half if necessary.

2. In a small non-stick skillet, spray with PAM and set over medium flame. Add in the onions and jalapenos. While their sauteing, whisk together the egg whites and all seasonings. After about 4-5 minutes the onion mixture should be slightly browned. turn the heat to low, and pour in the egg mixture. Flame should be on low while slowly cooking this. Gently mix together to create a soft scramble. When the eggs begin to fully cook through, sprinkle in the cheese and mix to incorporate. Before placing on the serving dish, mix in chopped cilantro.

3. Drizzle with crema and top with pico de gallo.

Breakfast! Lunch! Snack! Dinner!

Quick Trip to Santa Monica and L.A.

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I went to LA and Santa Monica last week with a friend and was able to work from our LA office. In my short time there I was able to explore some new restaurants! Check out the reviews below.

Estate, Santa Monica

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It was out first evening in Santa Monica, and we wanted some good food! After a full day of traveling cross country and working non-stop, we deserved a nice cocktail and delicious meal. I asked a good friend of mine for some recommendations, and he pointed me to Estate 1519, which was walking distance from our hotel. It was very new and seemed as though it offered Asian-fusion food. Now, I’m usually skeptical of “fusion” cuisine, because I generally find that the food is confused and ultimately not good. However, I trusted that In SoCal, Asian was probably a safer bet. It is generally thought that Asian and Mexican cuisines are very good here.

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Some Quick Rates:

Quick Rates (1-10, 10 being the best):

  • Food: 7
  • Beverages: 9
  • Service: 8
  • Ambiance: 8
  • Price: 6

Beverage:

Matcha Piccu: Gin, Lemongrass, Matcha Green Tea, Fresh Lemon Juice.

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I’m generally a huge fan of gin in cocktails – it blends really well and doesn’t overpower the other ingredients, but still gets the job done (if you know what I mean). I LOVED this cocktail – I loved match green tea and gin so that combination was fabulous. It tasted like I was drinking an adult green tea. It had a balanced flavor of sweet and tangy.

Food:

Farmers Market Flatbread: sweet cherry tomato / weiser farms peewee potato / yellow & red bell pepper mozzarella / kale.

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This “small plate” was a great size and they even added thinly sliced fresh jalapenos on it without me asking (maybe it was because I emphasized while ordering that I want the spiciest thing in their kitchen. Must’ve given it away). This was a great combo of fresh veggies, small dollops of goat cheese, and roasted fingerling potatoes. I would’ve preferred more of a sauce on it – maybe a kale pesto? Otherwise, it was very good.

Pad Thai: fried tofu / eggs / onions / red bell pepper / roasted peanut / lime.

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I would like to think by now that I’m a Pad Thai connoisseur. This dish was quite deceiving. When it came, we instantly thought it was a small portion and were annoyed. However the bowl was deep. I actually really enjoyed this dish – it was full of flavor and the ingredients were very fresh. The tofu was lightly pan fried – not oily and chewy like tofu in pad thai generally is. They also provided me with Thai chili powder and fresh jalapenos, so obviously that improved my experience.

Dessert – Green Tea Tiramisu: Chocolate-Almond Cookies.

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Next to the cocktail, I think this was my 2nd favorite item. It was tiramisu with an Asian twist. Creamy, light, and packed with the delicious green tea flavor and served with a matcha green tea sauce. The cookies were unnecessary though – didn’t think it added much to the overall dish.

Tinga, LA

I was taken here for lunch on recommendation of my colleagues in LA. It was casual and when you walked in, it felt as though I was at a roadside taco hut in Mexico, and I liked that. Some Quick Rates:

Quick Rates (1-10, 10 being the best):

  • Food: 7
  • Beverages: – (drank water)
  • Service: 8
  • Ambiance: 7
  • Price: 7

Tres Salsa Tasting: two salsa and guacamole.

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Wasn’t the biggest fan – for all those who know me, know that i absolutely hate raw onions. Which means I couldn’t eat the guacamole or the pico de gallo in this dish. So this “Two Salsa and Guacamole” dish really became “One Salsa” dish for me. The salsa was good, but definitely not the best I’ve had.

Elote Especial: grilled sweet corn, lime, crema, chili, poblano puree.

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I generally love Elote – in a bowl or on the cob. This was really good and I loved the poblano puree, but it had a little too much lime for my liking and also wasn’t spicy. However, they were able to provide me with grilled serranos and a homemade habanero sauce, which fulfilled my spice craving.

Papas Brava Tacos: Mashed bashed and smashed potatoes with pasilla rajas, pickled peppers, queso fresco and “ Mother in Law” salsa.

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I’ve never had potatoes in tacos, so I thought why not give it a try? This totally reminded me of a classic Indian dish we have called Aloo Tikkis, but with a tortilla. It was basically potatoes that were mashed with some spices, onions, peas and then made into a patty and pan seared on each side. Placed into a fresh tortilla – which was very good, had great texture – topped with creama, queso fresco and the poblano puree. It was very good, but I do think the mashed potato patty could’ve used more flavor. Maybe some garlic, cumin, and cilantro would’ve done the trick!

Candle Cafe, Venice Beach 

We walked from Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica to Venice Beach, which isn’t a bad walk! But of course, we worked up an appetite. To our dismay, nothing was open at 9pm on a Thursday evening! I understand cities outside of NYC aren’t open 24/7, but Venice Beach? Come onnnn. Since it was a little chili, we found the place with the most heat lamps and sat right next to one. This happened to be at Candle Cafe.

Quick Rates (1-10, 10 being the best):

  • Food: 4
  • Beverages: 6
  • Service: 7
  • Ambiance: 6
  • Price: 7

Beverages: Instead of ordering 2 glasses of wine, which were $9 each, we order a bottle of white wine for $30 – that’s how they always get you. Obviously, this was like a $10 bottle, that they were charging 200% more for. However, it was fine for the evening.

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Food:

On-The-Side Nachos: Topped with Fondue Cheese and Jalapenos. Salsa, Guacamole, Black Beans, Sour Cream.

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So this is probably the most inaccurate description. It was basically tortilla chips, topped with processed nacho cheese, served with all the sides.

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Don’t get my wrong, I happen to love ghetto nacho cheese, especially the kind we get at movie theaters, but don’t fool me by saying “fondue cheese”!!! Also, they were pretty skimpy with the cheese, so we had to request for more “fondue cheese” on the side (see below). The best part in this whole dish was the avocado, which wasn’t even a part of the dish. I had ordered it on the side. Hit the spot though.

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Side of Avocado: come on, I can’t go to SoCal and not eat some fresh avocados!!

Ice Cream & Homemade Chocolate-Chip Cookies as a Sundae: Another completely deceiving description. Basically two small cookies served with a bucket of vanilla ice cream – no sundae fixins’! Either they forgot, or California people eat really WEIRD sundaes. Disappointing.

Blu Jam Cafe, Hollywood

I met an old colleague here on his recommendation for breakfast. It was pretty casual – I think it was equivalent to a diner.

Quick Rates (1-10, 10 being the best):

  • Food: 6
  • Beverages: 8
  • Service: 7
  • Ambiance: 6
  • Price: 7

The menu is extensive. I love and hate large menus – there are enough choices for a picky person like myself, but also confusing like an indecisive person like myself. I settled on a savory breakfast item. I was in SoCal, so I couldn’t leave without eating a breakfast burrito!

Beverage: Dirty Chai: Espresso with Spiced Chai. This was actually awesome – a huge mug filled with frothy chai and espresso sprinkled with cinnamon. It was really good and not filled with overpowering spice, such clove and cardamom. I was a huge fan.

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Wrap On Fire: Fresh eggs scrambled with spicy chipotle peppers, black beans, cilantro, tomato, red bell peppers, and cheddar cheese rolled up in a large grilled flour tortilla, served with sour cream and grilled potatoes.

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Of course I altered this by asking for egg whites and jalapenos and chipotle sauce on the side. I was served the burrito and noticed that it was not egg whites, but because we were pressed for time, I figured I’d just hush up and eat it. But then as I kept eating, I realized there were no jalapenos! Noooo. I informed the waitress, and she told me that in fact they had served me the wrong burrito. I got mine with egg white and jalapenos, and what I liked most about the dish was the fact that the burrito was grilled crisp on all sides. It was pretty good, but definitely needed more flavor. They didn’t overfill it was cheese and the chipotle sauce on the side added some yumminess. The crispy rosemary home fries were very good.

The French Crepe Co., Farmers Market LA 

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It was my last day in the office and my colleagues were nice enough to take me to the Farmers Market in LA right next to The Grove shopping center. There’s tons of options to choose from – Mediterranean, BBQ, creole, Korean BBQ, Italian, you name it, they got it. I opted for The French Crepe Company – they seemed to know what they were doing.

Quick Rates (1-10, 10 being the best):

  • Food: 8
  • Beverages: –
  • Service: –
  • Ambiance: 7
  • Price: 7

Sweet Nutella Crepe with Strawberries & Side of Dulce de Leche:

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I really judge a crepe based on its color and texture – a good crepe should be slightly golden brown and lightly crisp, not soggy. Really, the ingredients inside don’t really matter, because most of the time they’re not homemade, i.e., Nutella. This crepe was delicious – thin, crisp and wasn’t soggy at all. I saw them make it – layered tbsp upon tbsp of butter and sugar while cooking, which I think helped it gain it’s golden color and texture.

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The dulce de leche was also equally delicious. And they didn’t over stuff the crepe, which is always lovely.

Warm Goat Cheese Salad: With Mixed Greens, Olives and Sundried Tomatoes Served with French Dressing.

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This was definitely the weakest dish of our meal. The portion was great – enough for 2-3 people, but it was lacking in flavor. The only part of the salad that was good were they toasted crostinis topped with warmed goat cheese. Otherwise, a rather lame and unflavorful salad with an out-of-the-bottle dressing. 

Il Pastaio, Beverly Hills 

For our last evening in LA, we decided to go with my friends suggestion and dine at a rather “bouji” Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills. It had all the makings of a quintessential Beverly Hills restaurant – small in size, packed, rather long wait, and tons of rich folks with plastic faces. Yup, Beverly Hills. But for some reason even with that, it still gave me a homey feeling. Also, this restaurant had an awesome selection of vegetarian options!

Quick Rates (1-10, 10 being the best):

  • Food: 9
  • Beverages: –
  • Service: 8
  • Ambiance: 7
  • Price: 6

Timballo di Zucchine: Zucchini Soufflé Served over Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce and a Touch of Truffle Fondue.

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I wanted to try something that I would’ve normally get at home. However, that’s probably the hardest thing I can do when traveling, because I can get everything in NYC. However, this was a very unique dish I spotted and it was totally vegetarian! It was a delicious light and soft zucchini souffle floating in a bath of yellow bell pepper and truffle fondue sauce. It was absolutely delicious and I wish I had some right now.

Agnolotti: Homemade Green Ravioli Stuffed with Mushrooms; Cheese Fondue and Truffle Sauce.

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I love truffle, and in actuality, I wanted to order the black truffle special, but unfortunately it was $50+ per dish (WHAT!). So I opted for the “cheaper” option. And I’m glad I did! I love Agnolottis in general – they tend to have a lighter dough and aren’t swimming in sauce. This was delicately draped in a creamy and truffly sauce which was so good that I actually finished my entire dish – I never finish my entire dish! So good.

Cameo Bar, Viceroy, Santa Monica 

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It was our last night in the hotel, and we’ve been told by many friends and colleagues that our hotel – Viceroy – has a cool bar scene on Friday nights. We decided to have a drink at the Cameo Bar. I generally loved the Viceroy here – there wasn’t much space, but they utilized it so nicely. We each had a Spiced Strawberry Sangria, which had red wine, spiced strawberry liqueur, lemon juice, and fresh strawberry. It was really nice – refreshing but warming at the same time because of the spice. All in all, lovely experience.

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Deconstructed Olive Oil Cake Parfait

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A couple of years ago I received the Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller (it was actually from my old boss during our Secret Santa gift exchange!).

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I decided to FINALLY make something from it for Mothers Day this year! I probably made the simplest recipe from the book, but of course I jazzed it up and put a Chef Priyanka twist on it.

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I made a relatively heavy brunch that day, so I decided to make a rather light and summery dessert. I used Bouchon’s Olive Oil cake recipe and make a deconstructed parfait with fresh whipped cream and homemade strawberry coulis. Check it out!

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Deconstructed Olive Oil Cake Parfait:

  • 1 Olive Oil Cake – baked and cooled, cut into 4 inch wide squares
  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 2-3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh orange zest
  • 1 cup of strawberries – quartered
  • 3-4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • squeeze of lemon juice (from about 1/2 a lemon)
  • 1-2 fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnishing (optional)
  • good extra virgin olive oil for garnishing (optional)

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To make the fresh whipped topping:

1. In a clean and cold bowl, add in your chilled heavy cream. Begin whipping on medium speed and slowly add in your 2-3 tbsp sugar and orange zest. Switch speed to high and whip until medium-firm peaks are formed. Spoon into an air tight container and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the Strawberry Coulis:

1. In a small-medium sauce pan add in your berries, 3-4 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp orange zest, lemon juice, and 1-2 fresh mint leaves. Place over a medium-low flame and cook until reduced and thick, stirring occasionally. Amount should reduce slightly, and mixture should be thick and deep red in color. Place in an air tight container and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To assembler parfait:

1. In small plates or bowl place one square of olive oil cake, spoon on about a tsp of whipped cream, tsp of strawberry coulis, top with another cake layer and top with some more whipped cream, strawberries, garnish with a sprig of mint and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Repeat until all components are finished.

 

Crispy Mexican Hash Browns

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Crispy Mexican Hashbrowns:

  • 5 Idaho potatoes – cleaned, peeled, dried
  • 1 serrano pepper – minced
  • 2 stalks scallions – minced
  • 1-2 tsp no salt/low sodium Mexican seasoning
  • 1 tsp dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • pinch of cumin powder
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • PAM Original Flavor

1. Grate the potato into a cheese cloth, and once all the potato is grated, tie tight and squeeze out the excess water. Place into a medium bowl. Toss in the minced serrano and scallions. You want to mix in the remaining ingredients 5 minutes before cooking.

2. Spray a large non-stick skillet with PAM and place over medium-high flame. Add the potato mixture, making sure to spread it out evenly all over the pan – you want it to be a thin layer so it crisps up. Cook on 1 side for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Then try and flip to the other side (or flip over in sections) and cook for a few minutes until browned. Remove and place on a serving dish. Garnich with a generous amount of chopped scallions. Serve!

Serves 2-4 

Mexican Street Corn

corncob

The first time I ever ate charred corn on the cob with spicy Mexican mayo and crumbled queso fresco was in Acapulco, Mexico nearly 10 years ago. Ever since then I’ve been in love. I’ve made several Mexican Street Corn versions since then, but I must say this was probably one of the best variations I’ve made. I made this corn this past Sunday for a Mother’s Day Brunch and it was a super hit with my family! Try it for yourself…

corn

Mexican Street Corn:

  • 4-5 fresh corn on the cob – de-husked
  • a little less than a 1/4 cup softened butter/margarine – I used Light Butter with Canola Oil
  • 1 tbsp no/low sodium Mexican seasoning – I used McCormick 
  • 1 Serrano chili – minced
  • pinch salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • pinch finely chopped cilantro
  • squeeze of lemon/lime juice from a quarter lemon/lime
  • 1/4 cup shredded Queso Blanco
  • fresh chopped cilantro for garnishing

1. In a small bowl, mix together softened butter, seasoning, chili, salt, pepper, cilantro, and lemon juice. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until ready to use.

2. Char the corns either on an open grill or directly on the flame on the stove top for about 5 minutes on each side. Corn should be charred and completely cooked through. Using a very sharp knife, cut each cob in half.

3. Once the corns are slightly cool, spread a generous amount of butter on each, making sure to roll around so all the kernels can seep in the flavor. Top each with the shredded queso blanco and chopped cilantro. Serve!

Feeds 4-8 people