Sunday, August 14, 2011

Turkey Empanadas with Mint Sour Cream Sauce

Eating the empanada at the Dupont farmers market inspired me to try and make my own for the first time. Days I sat, pondering over what ingredients I would use for the stuffing and it finally came to me. I wanted something refreshing and not too heavy due to the high temperatures but at the same time, would fill me up and keep me satisfied.

Using my pallet, I made this recipe in hopes it would turn out as wonderful as I imagined. And boy did it! Give a try!

Turkey Empanadas with Mint Sour Cream Sauce

  • 4 cups cooked ground turkey
  • 1 ½ cups chopped mint (divided)
  • 1chopped mango
  • ½ cup goat cheese
  • 1 1/2 17.3-ounce packages frozen puff pastry (3 sheets), thawed
  • 1 egg white, beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon cold water (for glaze)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 lemon

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • In a large bowl, mix in cooked turkey, half of the mint and chopped mango.
  • Cut each pastry sheet into fours.
  • Spoon on roughly 4 table spoons of the filling onto the center of each pastry square and top with a tablespoon of goat cheese.
  • Grab two opposite corners of the pastry dough and pinch above the filling. Holding on to that, slowly pinch down each side of the dough until the filling is in the center and you’re left with a large triangle. Use a fork to pinch the seam shut and cut a hole in the top of each empanada to release steam.
  • Paint each empanada with the egg white glaze and bake for 15 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, combine sour cream, the remaining mint, lemon zest and a pinch of salt.

The simple mint sour cream sauce really made the mint in the empanadas pop out. It was a perfect combination of sweet and salty combined with the crunchiness of the puffed pastry. I noticed, that no matter what I did, the puffed pastry wouldn’t stay together at the seams but not much of the filling leaked out and the light texture of the pastry married well with these refreshing ingredients. Bon appétit!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fried Squash Blossoms with Basil Ricotta Filling

Finally, I had them; soft, delicate and ready to eat, my first squash blossoms.  Now, I usually like to try food before I attempt to make it but this, I knew, was going to be a success. I used the basis of a recipe I found in Epicurious, I tweaked it a little by substituting basil for the mint. I didn’t have a deep fry thermometer so I had to use my instincts, which taught me a very valuable lesson.

When frying anything, make sure your oil is hot enough. If you don’t have a thermometer sprinkle some of your batter in the heated oil and watch closely how it reacts. If the desired consistency appears within a few seconds, your oil is hot enough. If you’re too eager, like me, and put the blossoms in too soon than the oil is absorbed into the batter rather than cooking the outside of the blossom and developing a crispy outside layer.

Looking at this recipe, I was surprised to see that it called for seltzer/club soda instead of milk or water for the batter. When frying, I found out why. Using carbonated water encourages the batter to separate and become lighter and fluffier. With such a delicate vegetable, this is a desirable consistency rather than the greasy batter used in fish and chips. When frying the blossoms, you can see bubbles in the batter forming which creates a lighter, crispier coating.

Another thing I used to save time and prevent a messy situation is a piping bag to fill the blossoms with the ricotta filling. When I pictured myself trying to gently spoon the filling into the blossoms, I could foresee a lot of cussing, ripped blossoms and a big mess. If you have a piping bag, this is an opportune time to get reacquainted with it.

I sincerely hope this recipe encourages you to try something new next time you run across it, you never know when you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Happy experimenting!

Fried Squash Blossoms with Basil Ricotta Filling

1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta (preferably fresh)
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup finely chopped basil
2/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
6 large zucchini squash blossoms
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chilled seltzer or club soda
About 1 cup vegetable oil for frying

Deep-fry thermometer
Piping bag

Stir together ricotta, yolk, basil, 1/3 cup parmesan, and 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
Carefully open each blossom and pipe in ricotta filling, gently twisting end of blossom to enclose filling. (You may have filling left over.)

Whisk together flour, remaining 1/3 cup parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and seltzer in a small bowl.
Heat 1/2 inch oil to 375°F in a 10-inch heavy skillet. Meanwhile, dip half of blossoms in batter to thinly coat. Fry coated blossoms, turning once, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes total. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain. Coat and fry remaining blossoms. (Return oil to 375°F between batches.) Season with salt.

** If you’re inspired by this recipe and would like to try squash blossoms, check out Chef Jose Andres’s restaurant, Oyamel, in DC for his Squash Blossom Festival going on from August 1st through August 14th.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dupont Farmers Market

This may sound completely crazy to you but after living in DC for two years now, I've yet to visit the Dupont Farmers Market. I know, I know. Everyone keeps telling me all about it and I've read several reviews but could never find myself up at 8am on a Sunday.

All excuses aside, I woke early this morning to check out what the rave was and boy was I missing out! When I first arrived, I didn’t know where to start. They offered everything from ice cream, fresh bread and pastries to meats, farm fresh eggs and fish. I was in awe by the array of fresh produce and herbs available as well.
My original plan was to walk around first to see all there was to offer before I started buying but that plan soon fell short when I spotted ripe summer squash blossoms. It was officially on! At 3 for $1, I bought 6 and was quickly adding a gorgeous heirloom tomato and a luscious bunch of basil to my order.  After several samples of fresh watermelon, peaches and tomatoes I treated myself to a few ripe peaches for breakfast this week.

Waking so early and being surrounded by so many gorgeous foods, my apatite was growing and I needed to eat something soon before I bought the whole lot.  Rounding the corner I saw a large group of people placing orders for freshly baked empanadas at Chris’s Marketplace. They were selling out fast so I had to grab one quick. One of my weaknesses is crawfish so I went with their crawfish mango empanada. The salty hue of the crawfish paired wonderfully with the sweetness of the mango. The textures married well with the soft dough, the crawfish and the gooey mango. It was a pleasant break for the overwhelming verity of the market and now I was ready for dessert.
I saw several children walking around with smiles on their face as they ate cups of fresh ice cream. Coming to the end of my journey, I finally came to her; the ice cream lady. Children were surrounding her both giggling over samples of fresh sorbet and ice cream she was handing out. One flavor, in particular caught my eye; Blueberry Lemon Thyme. I was taken away to a place of pure bliss when I sampled it and had to take one home. She expressed to me that blueberries would soon be out of season and this was, unfortunately, her last batch of that flavor for the year. I would have loved to purchase two but at $6 a pop for a 4oz cup, I’d have to enjoy what little I had.  I thanked her and quickly walked to home before it melted.

Upon returning home, I enjoyed the pure beauty of my findings of the day. I couldn’t wait to try everything and finally experiment with squash blossoms. I plan on returning to this little gold mine up the street from me next week in hopes I can find something I’ve never seen before. There was a buzz about figs in the air today and I’m determined to get my hands on some next week.

Stay tuned for my squash blossom recipe this week. Happy exploring everyone!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Weekend Shenanigans

Friday 7/29:
  • If you haven’t been to Jazz in the garden yet this year, you’re severely missing out and should be punished. I mean, what’s better after a long work week than sipping wine, enjoying great jazz and munching on some amazing cuisine with a bunch of your friends? Nothing you say? Right, exactly. Come join me this Friday at Jazz in the Garden – Smithsonian Sculpture Garden. 5:00- 8:30pm 700 Constitution Ave. NW
  • A free taste of Harlem at Eastern – Marcus Samuelsson is bring his culinary inspiration to DC this Friday while on his national food truck tour for charity. He will be serving free samples of his finest cuisine and is gladly accepting donations on behalf of the hunger relief organization Feeding America.  11-3PM at Eastern Market – 225 7th Street SE.

Saturday 7/30:

  • Love some Basil? Come out to City Blossoms for their 2nd Annual Basil Bonanza held at the Marion Street Intergenerational Garden (1517 Marion Street NW). Bring your basil-themed dish to the party (to serve 5-10 people) in hopes to win an award! $10-$20 suggested donation. 4:00 – 6:00.
Sunday 8/1:
  • Did you just say ‘Bloody Mary and Mimosa Punch Bowls’? Yes please! Come to Lincoln Restaurant this Sunday and give it a try! 1110 Vermont Avenue NW

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

August Restaurant Week Announced!

RAMW has officially announced that Restaurant Week will be held on August 15th – 21st, 2011. Here is a complete list of the participating restaurants.
If I were you, and mind you I’m not you; but if I were, I would book your reservations in advance. Far Far Far in advance. You can always cancel as the time gets closer or scramble to convince your friends to go with you. I mean, that’s the best part of restaurant week, right? Oh, right….the food.  

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fish and Chips with Smoked Chili Cole Slaw

I paired this meal with a cold glass
of yuengling and fish and chip vinegar for dipping. 
Over the years, I have yet to find the perfect pairing of fish and chips. I’ve tried and I’ve tried and always end up disappointed. This crunchy, moist craving hit me the other day so I decided to give it a go. In searching for recipes, I couldn’t find one that I completely agreed with so I threw a few of them together to make my own. 

With my fingers crossed and my apatite growing, used my palate to choose the ingredients for this recipe.
Along with fish and chips I wanted to go above and beyond with a killer cole slaw. I’m a big fan of Bobby Flay and have always been blown away by his recipes so naturally I went to his website to check out what he had to offer. His recipe for smoked chili recipe spoke to me. It was a done deal. 

The majority of the ingredients for the fish and chips were things I had laying around the house, which I absolutely love and look for in a recipe; everything except the beer and fish, of course. In choosing the perfect fish, I wasn’t shy to pick the brain of the fish guy at the market to help me make my decision. I was taught in one of my cooking classes that there are a few key things to become a great cook: 1) Always keep your knife sharp 2) Make friends with the butcher and the fish guys  and 3) always have a backup meal just incase yours doesn’t turn out the way you wanted. (I don’t always follow this one). He and I both decided to go with the Cod this time.

So without further adieu, my fantastic foodie friends, I give you Fish and Chips with Smoked Chili Cole Slaw.

Fish and Chips with Smoked Chili Cole Slaw

Fish & Chips

  • 2 Cups flour
  • 1 tbs. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbs. old bay
  • 1 cold stout (Guinness)
  • 1 ½ lb. white fish (Tilapia, Pollock, Cod)
  • Cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil

  • Mix flour, baking powder, salt and old bay in a large mixing bowl
  • Whisk in beer until the batter is smooth and all the lumps are removed
  • Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  • Dredge the fish in cornstarch then dip in the batter
  • Fry in 350 degree vegetable oil until golden brown

Homemade Chips (French Fries)

  • 4 Large Russet Potatoes – peeled or unpeeled  
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbs. Old Bay
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

  • Preheat over to 350 degrees
  • Cut potatoes into desired shapes and toss with old bay, salt and pepper
  • Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until it crackles when you throw a drop of water in it
  • Gently fry the potatoes until they are a golden brown
  • Remove the fried potatoes and place on a plate with paper towels to drain.
  • Transfer the potatoes to a greased cookie sheet, spread out evenly, and bake for 15-20 minutes turning half way.

Bobby Flay’s Smoked Chili Cole Slaw

  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium head green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 large carrots, finely shredded
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine Mayonnaise, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, lime juice, honey and cumin in large bowl. Season, if desired, with salt and black pepper. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least 20 minutes before serving.

Now, I’m going to do it again, toot my own horn. BEEP BEEP! This was, by far, the best fish and chips I’ve ever eaten.

** Lesson learned: Make sure you cook the fish long enough, my first batch still had a bit of batter in the middle because I thought they were done when they weren’t.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Night after night it’s always the same question: “Did you eat?” “What do you want for dinner?”
Now don’t get me wrong, you all know how much I love to cook but some nights it’s the last thing I want to go. After a long, grueling day at work I just want to sit down with a glass of wine and stare at a wall.
My go-to meal on those nights is one that always brings my palate back to life and it involves little to no cooking. This plate is something I look forward to above all and it never disappoints, no matter what ingredients I use.
It’s a smorgasbord!!!! The unofficial (Kristinized) definition is: a whole bunch of whatever on a plate paired with good wine. 

According to Wikipedia: “Smörgåsbord  is a type of Scandinavian meal served buffet-style with multiple dishes of various foods on a table, originating in Sweden. In Norway it is called koldtbord, in Denmark it is called kolde bord, in Finlandseisova pöytä and in Estonia rootsi laud. Smörgåsbord became internationally known as Smorgasbord at the 1939 New York World's Fairwhen it was offered at the Swedish Pavilion's "Three Crowns Restaurant." It is typically a celebratory meal and guests can help themselves from a range of dishes laid out for their choice. In a restaurant, the term refers to a buffet-style table laid out with many small dishes from which, for a fixed amount of money, one is allowed to choose as many as one wishes.”
My personal favorite version of this delicious mess of a dinner is to pair fresh baked French baguette with whichever cheeses (yes, this is plural) I’m in the mood for, a juicy fruit such as grapes or a perfectly ripe pear, herb seasoned olives and a cured meat such as prosciutto all paired with your choice of vino or beer.
To have fresh delicious fresh bread at home, I use Pillsbury's French loaf and bake it minutes before I serve this dish. It's always cooked perfectly and nothing beats fresh bread straight out of the oven. 
This is definitely a meal you can play around with and eat with good company very slowly over good wine and conversation. It allows you to experiment with pairings and eat until your heart is content and is perfect for parties!
Not that hungry? Scale down the portions for a vegetarian meal for one! 

Play around with this one and let me know what you think. 
Bon Appetite!