Steak Tacos

Make Steak Tacos for an Easy Weeknight Dinner

 Steak Tacos

Pan-Asian Steak Tacos

Korean Steak Tacos

Korean steak tacos fuse Korean bbq and Mexican street food. Los Angeles food truck Koi Korean BBQ is generally credited with their invention. They fill Mexican tortillas  with Korean ingredients such as bulgogi and kimchi.

Warm Flour Tortilla

Flour Tortilla

Koi Korean BBQ

The fusion of flavors at Koi Korean BBQ have earned it recognition in the food community. It received a Bon Appetit Award in 2009 and their chef, Roy Choi was named Best New Chef by Food & Wine in 2010.

Sliced Red Pepper

Sliced Red Pepper for Vegetable Slaw

Social Media

Korean Tacos are a social media phenomena. They were brought to prominence through Koi Korean BBQ’s effective use of influencers and Twitter. Through Twitter, they brought their followers to new parts of the LA, while developing bonds in new communities. Korean tacos are now a feature of food trucks and restaurants throughout the US and Canada.

Sliced Scallion

Sliced Scallion for Vegetable Slaw

Pan Asian Steak Tacos

Although my inspiration is the Korean steak taco, my recipe is Pan-Asian. I marinate flank steak in teriyaki sauce, usually Soy Vay’s Veri Veri Teriyaki. Instead of cabbage or kimchi, my raw vegetable slaw has sweet peppers, scallion and cilantro. Heirloom tomatoes dressed with olive oil and a pinch of salt add a final layer of flavor.

Cilantro

Cilantro for Vegetable Slaw

Healthy Meals

For more easy meal ideas try my Salmon in Lemongrass Sauce, Smooth Gazpacho or Ploughman’s Lunch Sandwich.

Recipe

Pan Asian Steak Tacos

1 lb. Flank Steak

Soy Vay’s Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce

4 large flour tortillas

1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 yellow pepper, thinly sliced

3 scallions, sliced lengthwise

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup Soy Vay’s Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce

1/2 cup halved heirloom grape tomatoes

1/8 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

 

Coat the bottom of a large baking dish with Veri Veri Teriyaki Sauce. Dip both sides of the steak in the marinade to coat. Lay steak in marinade and marinate 4 hours – overnight. Take meat out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Put on foil wrapped broiler pan.

Preheat oven to 250F. Wrap the tortillas in foil. Put the tortillas in the oven to warm.

Toss together peppers, scallion and cilantro with the teriyaki sauce.

Toss tomatoes with olive oil and salt.

Pat the meat dry. Turn broiler or grill to high. Cook 4-6 minutes per side for medium rare. Let rest covered with foil 5 minutes. Slice against the grain.

Remove warm tortillas from the oven. Layer sliced steak, pepper slaw and tomatoes on each tortilla. Wrap and serve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh Figs

How Figs Make Your Fall Meals Easy

Figs

One of the joys of fall are figs.  After weeks of corn and tomatoes I’m ready for some new flavors. Nevertheless, it takes little effort to turn figs into a meal.

Figs

Figs

The Uniqueness of Figs

Fresh figs are lusciously sweet. Their texture is unique, with smooth skin, chewy flesh and crunchy seeds. A member of the mulberry family, they grow on ficus trees. Although there are more than 150 varieties, I only know the black mission fig. Delicate and extremely perishable, I try to use them within a day or two. It’s best to keep them covered, refrigerated and on a plate to prevent bruising.

Fresh Figs

Fresh Figs

Health Benefits

Despite their sweetness, figs are a healthy choice. They contain over eighty nutrients. Figs are high in potassium and an excellent source of fiber. They can also help with weight loss, lowering cholesterol and preventing hypertension.

Fig Toast with Cream Cheese

Fig Toast

Figs for Breakfast, Brunch or Lunch

I like figs at any time of day. At breakfast I have then on oatmeal with pistachios and pomegranate syrup. Or on Icelandic yogurt with chopped walnuts and maple syrup  They are also delicious at lunch, on an arugula salad with blue cheese. Or simply as fig toast with cream cheese on multigrain.

Figs and Goat Cheese Appetizer

Figs and Goat Cheese

Figs and Goat Cheese

Figs and goat cheese are a traditional combination. There is no easier way to impress guests than with a figs and goat cheese appetizer. More than the sum of it’s parts, it’s simply a quartered fig stuffed with a nugget of goat cheese. If I’m feeling more ambitious, I make crostini. I layer each toast, with a slice each of prosciutto, fig and a lump of goat cheese.

Carmelized Figs with Vanilla Ice Cream

Caramelized Figs , Balsamic Condiment and Vanilla Ice Cream

Fig Dessert Recipes

Caramelized figs topped with a splash of balsamic vinegar are a perfect dessert when I just want a bite of something sweet. More often, I put the warm drizzled figs on top of vanilla ice cream for a more decadent dessert.

For other dessert ideas try my recipes for Chocolate Apricot Rugelah, Raspberry Milkshakes, Plum and Lemon Thyme Flaugnarde. 

Recipe

Caramelized Figs with Balsamic Vinegar

Figs

Light brown sugar

Balsamic Condiment

Quarter figs and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with light brown sugar. Broil 3-5 minutes until sugar has melted. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of balsamic condiment over each sliced fig.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washington, DC Metro

Where to Find Some of the Best DC Restaurants

DC Restaurants

The long weekend gave me the opportunity to discover DC restaurants. It has transformed into a foodie paradise since my last visit, and I was excited by the prospect of adventure. Of course there were more good choices, than time.

Washington, DC Metro

DC Metro

Rigsby Restaurant DC

The Kimpton Carlyle Hotel Dupont Circle is the perfect destination for an evening arrival. It’s restaurant The Rigsby, a retro supper club, provides the weary traveler with a range of upscale comfort foods and well made cocktails. The Lobster Fra Diavolo has house-made pasta. It’s a satisfying, traditionally Venetian dish. I also like the stuffing in the Stuffed Flounder. The Chesapeake blue crab leads the local ingredients in the dish. The most exotic plate  was the Rack of Lamb. The Spiced Marbled Potatoes with Goat Cheese have more fire than traditional steak house sides.I like the Rigsby cocktails because they are both well-balanced and imaginative. I recommend The Virginia Slim and the Smoke Show .

The Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

The National Mall

No visit to DC would be complete without a visit to The Mall. My sightseeing included the Capital, monuments, Smithsonian Museums and the U.S. Botanical Garden. However, long blocks and warm, humid weather bring about the need for refreshment.

United States Botanical Garden

US Botanical Garden

 

The National Museum of the American Indian

National Museum of the American Indian, Location of Popular DC Restaurant, Mitsitam

Mitsitam

I stopped for a snack at Mitsitam Natural Foods Cafe in the National Museum of the American Indian. Voted one of the best museum restaurants by Conde Nast Traveler, the cafe enhances the museum experience by giving visitors the chance to sample the food of the indigenous people of the Americas. I was sorry a large breakfast precluded a meal. Nevertheless fresh fruit smoothies from Mitsitam Espresso Coffee Bar quenched my thirst. I recommend trying the Mango-Banana.

Inside Georgetown Cupcake

Georgetown Cupcake

Best Cupcakes in DC

I’m a dessert person. If a city is known for a particular treat, I have to try it. DC has serious contenders in the cupcake wars. Nevertheless, limited time led me to choose just one bakery, the highly regarded Georgetown Cupcake. It did not disappoint. They have a long list of delectable classics and specials every day. I tried the Mocha Fudge, Salted Caramel and Peanut Butter Fudge. Both the cakes and frostings are luscious and delightful.

Georgetown Cupcake Cupcake Cam

Cupcake Cam

More DC Restaurants

Although I didn’t have a chance to try Baked & Wired’s famous cupcakes, I enjoyed their sister DC restaurant, A Baked Joint. Located in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, the restaurant is famous for their handmade breads, which they make with  organic wheat each day. My Biscuit Sammie was just the right balance between a sandwich and a savory breakfast pastry. The Prosciutto sandwich on a baguette and and the Meatloaf sandwich on grilled pain de mie are also good.

Jaleo DC Artwork

Jaleo Artwork

Jose Andres Restaurants, DC

One of the great pleasures of travel is visiting the restaurants of great chefs. The restaurants of Spanish – American chef, Jose Andres are a fixture of the DC dining scene. Andres trained at Ferran Adria’s elBulli early in his career. He is often credited with bringing the concept of small plates to the US. Although the chef’s properties now include several concepts, I wanted to try his original Spanish tapas restaurant.

Jose's Choice Gin & Tonic at Jaleo DC, One of Chef Andres' DC Restaurants

Jose’s Choice Gin & Tonic at Jaleo,

Jaleo

The food at Jaleo is modern Spain. Authentic ingredients simply and elegantly elevate traditional dishes. I found the cocktail menu surprising. It includes a selection of gins and tonics, an inspired innovation, reflecting the appropriateness of the revitalizing drink in a warm climate. Jose’s Choice, a sculptural marvel of gin. lime, lemon and lemon verbena, is a worthy introduction to both the colorful restaurant and its cuisine. I  followed that with a selection of cheeses and Spain’s Iberico ham. They simply melt in your mouth. I also tried another favorite, shrimp sautéed in garlic, the famous tapas. It deviates from tradition with a surprising kick of spice. My final choice, grilled house-made pork sausage with sautéed white beans also proved a revelation, with beans both crunchy and toothsome.

Carrots and Herbs

How to Prepare a Delicious Healthy Lunch

Carrots and Herbs

Carrots for Ploughman’s Lunch

Healthy Lunch Ideas

As the summer winds down I start looking for new lunch ideas. After many tomato and fresh mozzarella feasts I want something new. Preferably something healthy and easy, with ingredients from the farmer’s market. Since I prefer protein based meals I chose to make a variation on a cheese sandwich.

Cheese Sandwich

Ploughman’s Lunch

A Ploughman’s Lunch is the meal a ploughman took with him to the fields. A British tradition, it contained homemade bread, cheese, chutney and pickles. Leftover cold meats and seasonal fruit would sometimes be included. Today’s modern gastropubs have found this the perfect vehicle to showcase their cheese and charcuterie selections. The dish now often includes artisan breads, pates, game and selections of regional cheeses.

Layered Cheese Sandwich

Layers of Phoughman’s Lunch Sandwich

Lunch

Although I have had several fine adaptations, I wanted to recreate a version of a Ploughman’s Sandwich I once had at the British pub, Pleasant House II. No longer in southwest Michigan, the people at Pleasant House Bakery have brought their pub concept to Chicago.The sandwich is now available at Pleasant House Pub in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Based on the British Ploughman’s Lunch, it layers cheddar cheese with sweet and savory flavors on crusty bread.

Crusty Bread

Whole Grain Bread

Carrots

One of the reasons I find this sandwich so memorable is the carrot chutney. Both sweet and sour, it gives a cheddar cheese sandwich a new dimension. I have to admit a lifetime aversion to cooked carrots, so I am shocked to discover the carrots in chutney are cooked as well as spiced. The recipe for carrot chutney owes a debt to Britain’s Guardian daily newspaper. In search of an authentically British condiment, I found a basic recipe among the reader’s contributions.

Shredded Carrots

Shredded Carrots

Pickles

Pickles are a staple of the Ploughman’s Lunch. While most people think of pickled cucumbers when they hear the word pickles, the Pleasant House sandwich contains pickled onions. Pickled onions are in fact traditional, but I chose to make my sandwich with bread and butter pickles. A popular side for grilled cheese sandwiches, I thought it would add a tangy note to the meal. Although I sometimes I buy condiments at the Farmer’s Market, my sandwich pickles were made by Bubbies.

Crunch

My healthy lunch includes greens. Greens give crunch as well as vitamins to sandwiches. The layer of spinach I added act as abase for the chutney.

Cheddar Cheese

Sliced Cheddar Cheese

Healthy Lunch Recipe

Ploughman’s Lunch Sandwich

2 Slices crusty bread

Cheddar cheese

Spinach

Bread and butter pickles

Carrot chutney

 

Place a layer of cheddar cheese on the bread, top with a layer of pickles. Add a layer of spinach and top with chutney. Cover with the second bread slice. Serve.

Onions

Sliced Onions

Carrot Chutney

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

1 onion sliced

12 ounces. grated carrots

Salt to tste

Pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon tumeric

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1/4 cup extra fine sugar (Process regular sugar in a food processor for a few minutes. Stop before it turns to powder.)

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

 

Sugar

Sugar Ready for Processing

Warm the oil in a large frying pan. Add the mustard seeds.When the seeds start to pop add the onions. Saute until translucent. Add the carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, tumeric, cumin and coriander. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the sugar and vinegar. Simmer for an hour. Cool and refrigerate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raspberry Milkshake & Straw

How To Make Great Milkshakes

Milkshakes

Milkshakes are great anytime. But stopping for ice cream is a rite summer. Creamy and cold, they bring instant relief on a hot day.

Raspberry Milkshake & Straw

Raspberry Milkshake

Raspberry Milkshakes

One reason I describe my diet as “healthyish” is my love for desserts. Life wouldn’t be as the same without the pleasure of sweets. This summer my new dessert discovery is raspberry milkshakes.

Milkshakes

Milkshake

Milkshake Flavors

My favorite place to try new milkshake flavors is Edzo’s Burger Shop in Evanston, IL.  Just north of Chicago, it can compete with any burger place in the city. The burgers and fries are delicious, but it’s the shakes that tempt me to experiment. Their specials might include Spicy Mexican Chocolate, The Elvis or Blackberry Pie.

Fresh Raspberries Tabletop

Fresh Raspberries

Fruit Milkshakes

I have to admit I’m a chocolate person. My favorite shakes are more likely to contain hot fudge than fruit. Nevertheless Edzo’s raspberry milkshake was a revelation. Greater then the sum of it’s parts, my favorite fruit was elevated by its incorporation into a thick vanilla milkshake. Similar to old favorites like raspberries and whipped cream, but a little more decadent.

Raspberries Close - Up

Raspberries

Replicating Edzo’s

To find the perfect milkshake recipe I turned to advice from  ice cream maker, Tyler Malek, from ice cream emporium, Salt and Straw in Portland, OR. As I expected, a thick milkshake requires on a generous portion of ice cream. However, the fat content of the milk is also important. Skim milk results in a watery shake.; thick milkshakes need whole milk.

Breyers Natural Vanilla Ice Cream

Vanilla Ice Cream

Quality Ingredients

Like Edzo’s, Malek relies on high quality ingredients for his shakes. He suggests using ice cream made from natural ingredients. I chose Breyers Ice Ceam because of their commitment to quality. Their Natural Vanilla contains simple ingredients and sustainably farmed vanilla beans. I also followed Edzo’s lead, and bought fresh locally grown berries at Chicago’s Andersonville Farmer’s Market. With ingredients of this caliber, a great dessert is almost guaranteed. Try my recipe for a refreshing summer treat.

Raspberries at the Farmer's Market

Andersonville Farmer’s Market

Desserts

My idea of decadence usually involves chocolate. For some chocolate dessert ideas try my recipes for Chocolate Rugelah, Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread or Dark Hot Chocolate.

 

Recipe

Raspberry Milkshakes

Serves 2

1 pint firmly packedvanilla ice cream

1/2 cup whole milk

1 pint raspberries

Raspberry Box

Box of Raspberries

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour into tall glasses. Serve with straws.

 

Cold Beet Soup Garnished with Sliced Cucumber

Why Beets Make the Most Beautiful Cold Soup

Beets

Beets get a bad rap. Healthy and sweet, roasted beets are delicious on their own, in a salad or a refreshing soup.

Cold Beet Soup Garnished with Sliced Cucumber

Cold Beet Soup

Borsht

Growing up, I associated them with borsht. Made by Manischewitz, a leading producer of kosher foods, the tall colorful jar in the refrigerator didn’t look like my vision of soup. My grandmother, a Russian immigrant, loved it, and had it for lunch with a boiled potato. Since it wasn’t served for dinner, I happily gave this strange feast a wide berth. I never even tried it.

Uncooked Beets

Raw Beets

Pickled

Pickled beets occasionally accompanied dinner. However, the tangy flavor of pickled vegetables did not fit with my childhood preference for less piquant flavors.

Roasting

I attribute my epiphany to a beautiful plate of beet ravioli. The fresh roasted filling contained an incomparable sweetness, erasing all previous memories. Although I now know that roasting any vegetable increases its sweetness, the transformation it brings about in the beet is truly remarkable.

Beets Finished Roasting

Roasted Beets

Beets Nutrition

Beets are a nutritional powerhouse. The benefits include anti-inflammatory properties and detoxification support. They are also rich in antioxidants.

Beet Recipes

My go to recipe for the vegetable was roasted beet salad until I discovered cold beet soup. Sweet, tangy and refreshing, it’s perfect for a hot day. Saltibarsciai  is a  specialty of Lithuania. It’s garnished with a combination of cucumber, dill, scallions or hard boiled eggs and often served with a side of boiled potatoes. Attempting to modernize my grandmother’s favorite lunch, I updated the recipe to take full advantage of the fresh roasted flavor. Unlike traditional recipes, my recipe begins with roasting beets rather than boiling. I want to extract every ounce of sweet flavor into the dish.

Beets Coated in Olive Oil

Beets Prepared for Roasting

Lunch

For other lunch ideas try my recipes for authentic poke, twice – baked potatoes or kale salad.

Recipe

Cold Beet Soup

4-6 Servings

4 medium beets, scrubbed

Olive oil

1/4 heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream

2 cups kefir

11/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Salt

Pepper

Sliced cucumber

 

Preheat oven to 400F. Place cleaned beets on a foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Cool until they are not hot to the touch. Peel off skins. They should come off easily. If  some skin remains take it off with a peeler. Grate peeled beets.

Roasted and Grated Beets

Grated Beets

Fold the whipped cream into the sour cream. Fold in the kefir. Mix with grated beets and puree. Taste. Add lemon juice if necessary to balance the sweetness. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with sliced cucumber.

Whipped Cream, Sour Cream and Kefir for Cold Beet Soup

Whipped Cream, Sour Cream and Kefir

For a heartier meal add sliced radish, scallions, and hard boiled eggs Serve with a side of boiled potatoes with parsley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slice of Flaugnarde dusted with Confectioner's Sugar

What to Do with an Abundance of Fruit

Summer Fruit

I can’t resist the explosion of summer fruit. August wouldn’t be the same without peaches, plums, melon and berries.  I want to try everything. Unfortunately my family does not share my enthusiasm, and I can’t keep up.

Summer Fruit

Fruit

Healthyish

I love decadent desserts when I go out, but at home I make fruit desserts. They fit better with my healthyish lifestyle. In order to keep them nutritious enough for breakfast or a snack, I keep the added sugar low. I like crisps: fruit topped with a buttery sweet crust of oatmeal, but they lack the protein I crave in the morning.

Plum and Lemon Thyme Flauganarde

Flauganarde

Flaugnarde

My search for a recipe that would keep me full all morning began with eggs. I wanted a simple egg – based dish that could incorporate fruit. I considered quiche, but baked pancakes are easier. A Dutch Baby or German pancake is quickly stirred together and baked in a buttered dish. Similar recipes that incorporate fruit include clafoutis, a cherry filled baked pancake with a hint of almond. And flaugnardes, the name for a baked pancake that incorporates other types of fruit. The flexible flaugnarde was a perfect fit for the varied nature of my bounty.

Lemon Thyme

Lemon Thyme in the Garden

Lemon Thyme

In addition to too much fruit, I have a garden full of herbs. Lemon thyme,this year’s addition to my garden, adds citrus flavor. Excited to use my new ingredient, my flaugnarde combines juicy, sweet plums and fragrant lemon thyme. My recipe is based on one from Epicurious. I reduced the amount of plums to increase its appeal to my family. I also reduced the sugar when I paired the plums with lemon flavor.

Slivered Lemon Thyme and kitchen Shears

Slivered Lemon Thyme

Brunch

Flaugnardes are perfect for brunch. They require minimal preparation, and bake while the cook prepares other dishes. Delicious warm or at room temperature they can be served from the oven or prepared ahead.

Slice of Flaugnarde dusted with Confectioner's Sugar

Slice of Flaugnarde

Fruit for Breakfast

For other fruit and protein packed breakfast ideas try my Peanut Butter Blueberry Breakfast Jar, Yogurt Parfait or Tropical Smoothie Bowl.

 

Recipe

Plum and Lemon Thyme Flaugnarde

Serves: 6 – 8

6 small plums, pitted and sliced

1/8 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon slivered fresh lemon thyme

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

4 eggs

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Confectioners’ sugar

 

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a cast iron skillet. and set aside.

 

Stir together the plums, sugar, and lemon verbena and set aside.

 Batter

Flaugnarde Batter

Whisk the eggs with the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, flour, and salt. Then whisk in the milk and vanilla. Distribute the plums evenly in the skillet. Finally, pour the batter over the fruit.

Bake on the center rack of an oven until for approximately an hour. The flaugnarde is done when set. Let cool 10 minutes and dust with confectioner’s sugar. Cut in wedges and serve. Alternatively, cool in the pan,until room temperature. Dust with powdered sugar, then cut and serve.