Thursday, July 18, 2013

Five-Minute Fava Bean Salad


After a long day at work and a relatively intense workout, I decided to keep it simple in the kitchen today and whipped up a mean bean salad.  I chose fava beans and feta cheese for protein (needed for muscle growth after a workout), onions for pungency, tomatoes for acidity and cilantro dressing for a huge burst of flavor.  It came together rather quickly and I enjoyed it all with a serving of whole grain crackers (baked with 10 whole grains & seeds).  The crackers actually helped to complete the protein provided by the fava beans (adding essential amino acids) and added some much needed crunch factor.  For the sake of all the people out there who hate cooking or like something quick and easy, I managed to muster up the energy to share it with all of you.  Enjoy folks!

P.S. It's perfect for a potluck: low-cost, flavorful and quick and easy!

Ingredients:



  • 1/2 cup canned fava beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 1 oz feta cheese in brine
  • 2 tbsp reduced fat cilantro salad dressing (available at Trader Joe's) or substitute pesto
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:


Add ingredients to a medium-sized bowl and thoroughly mix to combine.  Enjoy with whole grain crackers.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mango and Red Bell Pepper Juice


Imagine your life.  Now, imagine your life with a refreshing glass of mango and red bell pepper juice. Yes, Vitamin C loves you, too!  Ring in the dog days of summer with this sweet and tangy juice.  It's absolutely scrumptious and can be completely made to taste.  The 1 to 1 ratio of mango and bell pepper I use here yields a slightly tangy juice; however, you could easily double up on the mangoes or bell peppers to make it sweeter or even tangier.  For an added punch, I decided to rim the glass with a sweet and spicy mix of sugar, cayenne pepper and finely chopped crystallized candied ginger.  And, I may or may not have added a shot of cachaca.  Delish.  Cheers to the weekend, folks!

Ingredients:



  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and cut into strips
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • Ground cayenne pepper to taste, about 1 or 2 shakes
  • 1 small piece of crystallized candied ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp lime juice or cachaca/rum

Directions:


Begin by washing the mango and red bell pepper.  Prepare them for the juicer by dicing the mango and seeding the red bell pepper and cutting it into strips.  Juice the mango and red bell pepper using a juicer.    Mix and set aside. 

Add the sugar, cayenne pepper and candied ginger to a small bowl.  Stir to combine.  Transfer sugar mixture to a plate or bowl large enough to fit the rim of the glass you will drink from.  Next, dip the rim of the glass in lime juice or cachaca, being sure to moisten the sides of the glass near the rim as well.  Now, immediately dip the rim of the glass in the sugar mixture and press down on the ginger pieces to get them to adhere to the glass.  Turn the glass right side up.  Add the mango and red bell pepper juice.  If you're like me, you may or may not want to add a shot of cachaca or rum at this point, but that's at your discretion. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Good Eats in Delaware, Philadelphia and South Jersey

I know it's been a while since I last posted, but I've been pretty busy with work, moving and forgetting people's birthdays (sorry mom, dad and everyone else).  Fret not, I'm back and mixing things up a bit.  I'd like to share with you my Memorial Day weekend spent visiting some foodie friends and doing field research (i.e., eating my way through Wilmington, DE, Philly and South Jersey).

Staying true to myself and my style, I took off work on Friday and made it an epic four-day weekend.  I headed up to Hockessin, DE on Thursday evening to visit a close friend from graduate school.  It was good times as usual as we broke bread (literally) and ate several homemade meals.  For Friday dinner, we went to Le Shio, an Asian Fusion Restaurant in Wilmington, DE.  It's located in a strip mall with a rather unassuming storefront, which belies the modern and chic environs inside.  The menu is quite extensive, which seems to encourage indecisiveness, but we had plenty of time to deliberate while we were waiting for a table.  As a sweet potato addict, I decided to try the sweet potato tempura rolls along with several pieces of sashimi.  I even went out on a limb and tried squid sashimi for the first time.  It actually wasn't bad and I loved the sweet potato tempura rolls so much that I decided to bite the bullet and order a side of sweet potato tempura.  After dinner, we headed downtown to the riverfront for drinks at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant.  Ironically, no one ordered beer as we were all in the mood for cocktails.  I had a dark 'n' stormy with quite the gingery bite, followed by a coffee cocktail.  Afterwards, we decided to call it a night and headed home to surprise my friend's friend (who was visiting from NYC during the same time I was there) with a cake for her recent birthday.


On Saturday, I headed into Philly and met up with a good friend in the area.  It was around lunchtime so I decided to revisit my Philly to do list and we agreed on Memphis Taproom as the lunch option.  I once saw this place featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives and knew I had to try the smoked coconut club (which has quite the bacony flavor).  We arrived to find their beer garden open and decided to split a veggie hot dog topped with grilled cherries and mangos (that was surprisingly good) from the food truck in the beer garden.  Then, we walked next door to the restaurant and ordered food and brews. There were lots of exciting options on the menu, but I decided to stick to my guns and order the coconut club.  My friend ordered the fried green tomato po'boy so we could split the sandwiches.  Final verdict: The smoked coconut itself was delicious, but I found the sandwich as a whole to be somewhat bland and unexciting.  The flavors simply weren't assertive enough for me.  I actually preferred the fried green tomato po'boy, but it wasn't phenomenal either.  You know, I am from the Deep South after all, and I LOVE fried green tomatoes so maybe my standards are just exceptionally high for this regional staple.


Next stop, South Philly!  I love South Philly's character and vitality and there's no better place to experience it than the East Passyunk Avenue Corridor.  First, we hit up Capogiro (an old favorite) for gelato (Pistachio and Nutella) and then we went to Stateside for artisanal, handcrafted cocktails made with American spirits.  I was good times as usual.  Then, we made a quick pit stop in my old neighborhood, Point Breeze (interesting article on gentrification and development in the neighborhood), at American Sardine Bar.  I noshed a $2 sardine sandwich and we were out.


Then, on to Fairmount where we picked up my friend's girlfriend, had Campari cocktails and checked out the sweet rooftop deck at her house.  For dinner, we traversed town once more, heading west to Kilimandjaro, a Senegalese restaurant in West Philly.  The decor was pretty basic, which allowed the delicious food to shine like a star.  We began our meal by sharing an appetizing house salad loaded with veggies, hard boiled eggs, and shrimp tossed in a house dressing.  My dining companions split an order of beef patties.  For the main course, we shared yasa fish, a traditional Senegalese onion sauce with fried fish accompanied by a side of white rice, and grilled fish with a side of plantains.  It was plenty food for three people to share and we were plenty full as we left West Philly and headed to Northern Liberties to experience the whimsy and refined cocktails at Emmanuuelle.  As I looked their impressive cocktail list, I noticed the 'Tubarao...Tubarao' cocktail.  It combined so many great flavors (i.e., cachaca, campari, fresh grapefruit, lemon peel oleo-saccharum, egg white, and rosewater) so I decided to give it a try and it did not disappoint.  It was super light and the rosewater and egg white really helped to round out the drink.  Everything about this place was perfect except our server was slightly overbearing and would refill our water glasses every time we took a few slips and ask if we were doing okay.  Really???  After leaving Emmanuuelle, we made one final stop in Midtown for drinks and dancing before calling it a night.


Sunday was my final day in the Philly Metro area and I decided it was the perfect time to go hunting for panzarottis in South Jersey.  See you, long ago, I saw an episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate on The Food Network where Aaron McCargo Jr. described Camden's panzarottis as the best thing he ever ate with his hands.  I'd been dying to try one for years so I rolled up my sleeves and convinced my friend that we should head to Camden (a place where I had long been advised not to go by college mates and Jersey natives) for a doggone panzarotti. Turns out, Camden is indeed rough and ramshackle, but I didn't see how it was all that different from other places like Northeast Philadelphia and West Baltimore where I've worked and done research. We did a quick windshield tour of Camden and then headed over to Panzarotti Pizza King, which turned out to be closed.  Fortunately, there's tons of places to get a Tarantini Panzarotti.  We ended up at The Famous King of Pizza in Cherry Hill, NJ where they offer both the original Tarantini Panzarotti and their very own version made in house.  I decided to order the version made in house and it was divine!  I could seriously go for one right now.  The outside was crispy with a slight crunch.  The inside was airy and light and the cheese and marinara filling on the inside was delicious and perfectly seasoned.   Mission accomplished!  Afterwards, we drove through Collinswood, NJ and headed back to Philly where I packed up, ended my adventurous weekend and headed back to Baltimore.




Saturday, May 18, 2013

Smoked Salmon BLT

Barbecue cookouts and fish fries are a requisite life experience growing up in the Mid-South and barbecue is probably the food I've missed the most as a pescetarian.  I keep holding on and hoping that one day I'll find a Southern style barbecue joint with enough gumption and foresight to realize that tofu, tempeh, shrimp, salmon and vegetable kabobs are absolutely divine when grilled and slathered in barbecue sauce.  However, at the moment, that's nothing more than a dream deferred.  Just yesterday, I was in York, PA and my eyes began to glisten and sparkle as I came across Big Lou's Bar-B-Q on Yelp.  I was ever so hopeful.  Then, I was abruptly snatched back to reality when I looked at the menu and realized the only vegetarian options were carbs since the vegetables were likely cooked and flavored with meat.

So, for now, I'll continue to comfort my aching heart and wistful spirit with crab cakes (so far Alchemy is the best I've had), oysters and smoked salmon and mussels from Neopol Savory Smokery.   I honestly stop at Neopol for their smoked mussels every single time I'm in that part of town.  Their smoked salmon and mussels are quite reminiscent of the smokiness of barbecue and that causes my palate to sing praises and brings me temporary relief from this meat-free burden that I've place upon myself unspeakable joy.


This sandwich is inspired by Neopol's Salmon BLT.  They make a pescetarian version, by replacing the bacon with thinly sliced apples, that is quite scrumptious. I was thinking how nice it would be to have one for dinner with a glass of white wine during the week (when it's nearly impossible for me to make it over to their counter) so I decided to recreate it at home using the ingredients I had on hand.  




Smoked Salmon BLT


Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp garlic herb lemonaise
  • 1/2 tsp dill
  • Bread or sandwich rolls (I used rye pumpernickel)
  • Pea shoots
  • 7-8 oz of cracked peppercorn smoked salmon
  • Thinly sliced tomato
  • 3 pieces of bacon (sub thinly sliced apples for pescetarian version)
  • Thinly sliced red onion
  • Thinly sliced cucumber

Directions:


In a small bowl, mix garlic herb lemonaise and dill.  To assemble, spread the dill lemonaise mix over the bread.  Layers with pea shoots, smoked salmon, tomato, bacon or apples, red onion and cucumber.  Add top layer of bread and serve.   

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cocktail Hour: Paloma


Feliz Cinco de Mayo!  What is considered a relatively minor day in Mexico (commemorating the Mexican army's 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War) has evolved into a much larger celebration of Mexican culture and heritage here in the United States.

I am a huge fan of Mexican cuisine and it's a mere coincidence that I had Mexican for lunch today.  I was in Patterson Park for the Kinetic Sculpture Race so I decided to take advantage of being in Baltimore's Hispanic Corridor and went to La Sirenita for lunch.  I had a great ceviche tostada and cheese sopes, but it was the pumpkin flower quesadilla that was the star of the meal.  It had layers of flavor ranging from the corn tortillas and Mexican crema to the pumpkin flowers which tasted like they had been marinated for hours.  I decided to forgo beer and cocktails at the restaurant and opted to make homemade Palomas for me and a couple friends when I got back home.

According to my sources¹, the Paloma cocktail, not the margarita, is the most popular tequila based cocktail in Mexico.  I can definitely see why.  The Paloma is light, refreshing and slightly more balanced than a margarita.  I'm most definitely a fan.

1. Baltimore MagazineBon Appetit and Wikipedia

Paloma Cocktail


Ingredients:


  • Course Sea Salt
  • 1 lime
  • 1 shot tequila
  • Grapefruit soda (such as Jarritos, Squirt or Fresca)
  • Grapefruit wedge

Directions:


Pour some course sea salt on a small plate.  Rub the rim of a glass with lime and dip in salt.  Fill glass with ice.  Add juice from one lime and a dash of sea salt.  Stir in 1 shot of tequila and top with grapefruit soda, roughly 1/4 cup.  Garnish with grapefruit wedge. 



Monday, April 29, 2013

I Dream of Crabs and Iced Tea

This past Saturday, I woke up dreaming about Maryland's iconic blue crabs, which someone told me is a "new one" since "usually people wake up thinking about bacon".  Which kinda sounds like a euphemism for 'That's weird!'.  Which is actually not weird at all considering I'm pescetarian and crab benedict is absolutely phenomenal for breakfast.  Since everyone is so hashtag crazy these days, I'd just like that person to know that #MyPalateIsMoreSophisticatedThanYours  #CrabIsBetterThanBacon #MindYourBusiness #NoThankYouWouldHaveSufficed

On Sunday, it was iced tea.  The unfiltered, verbatim quote that I remember from my dream is, "If I have one more disgusting glass of iced tea up here!  These [northern] folks need to learn that it's okay to add a few tablespoons of sugar or honey or citrus to your tea while it's brewing."  Obviously, I was scarred by that unmemorable glass of orange blossom iced tea that I had at a local restaurant the day before.  Lol...

"Aha!  Why don't I try them together!" I thought.  Good idea.  So, yesterday, I made a proper glass of iced tea (see recipe below) and had steamed crabs for the first time.  I was in heavennnnnn!  The crabs were only $1 per crab (quite a bargain) and I even got a lesson on picking crabs at the crab shop.  The Old Bay coating was delicious and crab meat was divine.  Yeah, this is gonna be a problem...


A Proper Glass of Iced Tea


Ingredients:


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 lime wedges
  • 1 sprig mint
  • 1 bag of your favorite tea

Directions:


Add water to a small pot and bring to a boil.  Stir in honey, squeezed lime wedges and mint.   Add tea bag.  Cover with a lid and steep according to package directions.  Allow to cool for a few minutes and then add to a tall glass filled with ice cubes.  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Eat More Oatmeal


I'll admit to being a little obsessive about oats.  I'm partial to oatmeal, granola, oatmeal raisin cookies, these, this, this, definitely this and occasionally this.  And, I absolutely dig this!  I love how even the restaurant's bowl sizes are baby bear, momma bear and pappa bear.  I'm totally bookmarking this for my next trip to NYC. I know one thing, too, Goldilocks should steer clear of my bowl.  Lol. It may be hard for you to believe at this point, but my love and fascination with oats might be totally outdone by this (be sure to stroll all the way down to the bottom of the page).

It was second nature to sleepily stumble into the kitchen this morning and whip up this super quick bowl of oatmeal on autopilot.  I tend to use ingredients I have on hand for my morning oats (missing those toasted, unsalted, slivered almonds right about now) and I advise you to do the same.  Feel free to add, substitute and omit ingredients to your liking.

FYI: 10 Awesome Health Benefits of Oatmeal & Making Your Own Homemade Oatmeal Packets: A Visual Guide and Cost Analysis & 3 Ways to Save Money on Quick, Convenient Breakfasts

Ingredients:


  • 1 1/4 cup rice milk
  • 1/4 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1/2 cup quick cook oats
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 dates, chopped
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut
  • 1 shake of ground cardamon
  • 2 shakes of ground cinnamon
  • 1 shake of nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 6 oz container Chobani Low-fat Passion Fruit Greek Yogurt, well-shaken

Direction:


In a medium saucepan, heat rice milk and almond extract until hot and starting to bubble.  Add the next 8 ingredients and stir to combine.  Reduce to medium heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.  Transfer to a serving bowl and top with Greek Yogurt for a healthy, delicious and creamy breakfast fix. 
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