Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Goat Cheese, Arugula and Lemon Pasta

I'm back! Matt and I had a whirlwind weekend with Adrienne, one of my good friends from high school and college, visiting us in NYC for the first time. We packed so much in - had one of the best meals of my life at David Burke Townhouse, a great day in Central Park, ran a glow in the dark 5K at Citi Field, brunch, bagels, shopping, and many late nights in the city. It was so much fun and I still haven't caught up on sleep.

I recently made a very light and flavorful summer dish that didn't require too much heat in the kitchen - no oven required! For this goat cheese, arugula and lemon pasta dish, I only had to cook pasta and peas and put all of the remaining components together. Beware - the recipe is in Dutch so you'll need to use the translate setting. I also had to make some manual conversions from grams to ounces, but this dish can easily use a little more or less of the ingredients based on your liking (I definitely added extra goat cheese because it's soooo good).

I've never been a big cheese person (I know, I know, blasphemy!), but over the past few years, I've come around to enjoying some varieties on their own. Usually I just like cheese that's baked into dishes or masked with other flavors - lasagna, pizza, quesadillas - but I never appreciated it as a star ingredient. I never even ordered cheeseburgers, just the basic beef patty, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles for me. My husband has played a huge part in my conversion to cheese and I have discovered my love for goat cheese, maybe even a bit too much for his liking. This dish makes great use of goat cheese, adding a creamy texture and salty bite.

This dish really balances out between the heartiness of the pasta, the pepper-y kick from the arugula, the fresh pop of the peas, the creamy, salty bite from the goat cheese, and the refreshing hint of citrus from the lemon zest and juice. I highly recommend this dish for an easy-to-make light, summer meal!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Heat Wave!

Wow, this week has been ridiculously hot! Basking in the high 90s, which feels like above 100 degree temps, does not mix well with cooking. Sadly to say, this week has been very low key on cooking - hello, easy-to-throw-together salads and pita pizza I can toss in the oven for 30 minutes while I sit in front of the air conditioning. Luckily, the heat wave is going to break on Sunday and we'll be back in the 80s for the next week. I never thought I'd be happy for 80 degree days!

I'll be back to blogging about yummy recipes very soon, but just wanted to let you know that I'm still alive and surviving this intense heat. Time to enjoy a refreshing beer and take it easy on this hot, humid Friday. Happy weekend everyone!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cauliflower and Tofu Curry

I'm always trying to find recipes that I can make on Sundays so that we're set for lunch and dinner for most of the week. It definitely takes the stress out of cooking every night, especially when I have plans after work. I recently found a great recipe for cauliflower and tofu curry that makes a really big batch that lasts throughout the week.

This curry is really hearty with so many veggies - cauliflower, peas, carrots, onion, fire-roasted diced tomatoes, chickpeas - and packs a big punch of protein from the tofu. The coconut milk makes the curry really creamy and the curry powder gives a nice kick of spice without being overpowering.

I've made this curry twice in the past few weeks because it's so filling and flavorful. I definitely will keep this recipe in my regular rotation of Sunday dishes.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Maple Sweet Potato Cakes with Curried Greek Yogurt

At this point, you shouldn't be surprised that I have another sweet potato recipe to share. Luckily, this one is much different than the chili recipe I wrote about a week ago so at least I'm giving you some variety!

During my Foodgawker-ing, I came across a recipe for maple sweet potato cakes with curried Greek yogurt. This seemed like a great combo to me since I love sweet potatoes and I love making curries so why not put those two flavors together?

As the recipe suggested, I used my food processor to shred the sweet potatoes, which is always a great time saver. I don't know why my brain fails me sometimes, but I'll completely forget to use my food processor to chop/grate/shred veggies until after I've done it all by hand and then my husband will ask me why I didn't use that super handy appliance to do all the work for me. At least I didn't make that mistake this time!

While the cakes were cooking in the pan, I quickly whipped together the curried Greek yogurt. I happened to have plain yogurt at home, not Greek, so I went with what I had. The sauce was still creamy so I was satisfied with the final result - a cool, tangy and slightly spicy sauce.

The final product was delicious. The cake itself was sweet, with the addition of maple syrup to amp up the sweetness a bit more than what is naturally in the sweet potato. Since the cakes were served hot out of the pan, the cool curried yogurt sauce was a perfect pairing. The curry powder gave the yogurt a nice kick that wasn't too assertive, allowing the tanginess from the yogurt come through as well. All I can really say about this dish is yum!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Philly Love

My husband and I went to Philly together for the first time in mid June, turning a work trip of mine into a long weekend exploring a new city. And we kind of fell in love. The history, the restaurants, the walkability (that's a word, right?) of the city, the charm of the old buildings - we loved it all. We made sure to make the most of our time and hit the ground running!

My favorite place was definitely Reading Terminal Market. The sheer selection of local food, fresh produce, and scrumptious desserts - it would take forever to sample everything! I somehow managed not to take any pictures within the market (except a few on my phone of food, of course), but we definitely did our best to eat our way through. From breakfast at Dutch Eating Place and Down Home Diner, ice cream at Bassett's and beef brisket sandwiches at DiNic's, we only just got started. When we go back, I will have a lengthy list of food to gorge myself on.

Our first Philly restaurant was Chifa, a Peruvian Cantonese fusion restaurant from Jose Garces (I couldn't miss my opportunity to eat at an Iron Chef's restaurant!). All dishes were tapas style and we chose a variety based on our server's recommendations. The pork belly bao buns were moist and tender, with a nice crunch from the julienned carrots. The star dish was definitely the duck tacos. They were incredibly flavorful and had a nice kick of heat from the kimchi. We also had ceviche prepared with Hawaiian butterfish. It was absolutely delicious and melted in your mouth. Our last savory dish was chaufa, fried rice with chorizo, mango and edamame. The flavors were more mild after having several dishes with very assertive flavors, which was a good way to end before we had dessert. We chose pastel with sesame chocolate sauce topped with chocolate ice cream. I never say no to chocolate and this was a chocolate lover's dessert. I can't wait to try more of his restaurants, seeing as he has seven in Philly!

The following night, we went for Mexican at El Vez and ate a ridiculous amount of food. After the macho nachos, stacked high with shredded steak, black beans, smoked chile salsa, sour cream, white cheddar and monterey jack cheese, we barely had room for the Mexican chopped salad and pibil pork tacos we had ordered. To wash it all down, we each had a margarita, Matt always going for the classic on the rocks. I like more sweetness so I went with the frozen blood orange margarita, which was delicious.

Our last night in Philly, we went to Barbuzzo, a Mediterranean tapas style restaurant. We had the roasted beet salad, stuffed meatballs, and pan seared gnocchi. The three dishes really balanced each other. The salad was very earthy from the beets and kale with some tang from the goat cheese. The meatballs were so moist and flavorful, covered in tomato sauce and cheese with a garlic-y, buttery piece of Italian bread. The gnocchi was perfectly cooked with a mix of very fresh veggies and truffle butter (yum!).

Other than eating the entire time, we hit up some of the major sites - the Liberty Bell, Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the Rocky statue and run up the steps, and rode bikes along the Schuylkill River. I can't wait to go back and see other areas we didn't have time to fit in - South Street, the Italian Market, maybe check out the Yards Brewery (we did a beer tasting at City Tavern!). Until next time Philly!