Thursday, September 27, 2012

Arugula Salad with Figs Almonds and Goat Cheese

Last night I made an arugula salad with fresh figs, sliced almonds and goat cheese. For dressing I combined lemon juice, honey and olive oil. Very simple but visually beautiful and all flavors complement each other. This is similar to the beet salad I make, but I used figs here instead of beets. Dressing is different too. Try it yourself!

Making Pizza with Prosciutto and Figs at Home

I have been making pizza at home using pizza dough and sauce from Trader Joe's for four years now. I vary toppings but my staple has been prosciutto fig pizza. I like making it in late summer/early fall when figs are in season. The key to making a good pizza is not to overdo with the ingredients. You must put just enough of sauce, cheese, tomatoes and etc so that pizza comes out not soggy. Almost all of the ingredients I use I bought at Trader Joe's (this is not an endorsement but I like Trader Joe's with an exception of their hit-and-miss produce). Here is my recipe.


1 package of fresh pizza dough from Trader Joe's (I like Herb Garlic)
1 (16 oz) jar of pizza sauce from Trader Joe's
1 package of buffalo mozzarella, sliced (I use 1/2 of a ball usually)
4-5 slices of prosciutto, torn
2 small tomatoes, sliced
8 figs, sliced in circles
1/4 of a small red onion, half-mooned
Parmesan cheese and fresh basil for garnish
Flour for rolling the dough


1. Preheat oven to 450F. I usually make 2 pizzas from one package because I like thin crust pizza. I use flour to roll the dough out and then transfer it to a baking sheet dusted with flour.

2. Spread 4 tablespoons of tomato sauce first. Then start adding ingredients. Put as many or as little of each ingredient as you want but remember not to overdo it! Sometimes less is more. Use your creativity here! Once you put all ingredients fold the corners of the pizza.

3. Bake pizza for 12 minutes or until cooked - this depends on your oven. Once pizza is done, take it out of the oven, sprinkle Parmesan cheese and chopped basil leaves. Cut pizza and serve with a salad or with a beer. Very simple to make, is not it?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bulgur Wheat Salad with Tomatoes and Mint

Want something new? Try adding fresh mint in your cooking. But be careful - too much mint can ruin the dish. Mint is traditionally used to make mojitos and goes well with lamb. I have seen people use mint in feta-watermelon salad and with fresh peas. I personally been adding it to a salad I make with bulgur. Mint gives it some refreshing flavor.


2 cups of cooked bulgur
20 cherry tomatoes or 2 large ones
1 green bell pepper
2 sprigs of fresh mint
6 sprigs of fresh parsley
Juice of 1/2 of a lemon
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil


1. To cook bulgur in a large bowl combine 1 cup of dry bulgur wheat with 1.5 cups of boiling water, cover with a lid or plate and let it sit for 40 minutes until bulgur is cooked. You yield a little over 2.5 cups of bulgur from 1 dry cup.

2. Chop tomatoes, pepper, mint leaves and parsley. Add bulgur, olive oil, lemon juice and mix. Salt to taste.

3. Serve as a side dish or by itself. I eat it for lunches. It keeps well in a fridge for few days.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cooking Buckwheat Groats

I started eating buckwheat again. It happened as a result of looking for a healthier alternative to white rice, pasta and potatoes. I grew up eating buckwheat groats for breakfast with milk or for dinner as a side dish. Ever since moving to the U.S. I have not been eating much of it. The main reason is that it is simply not popular here and not many stores carry it. The only time I ever hear word buckwheat is in the same sentence as pancakes. Though I have eaten buckwheat soba noodles too.

Few times when I tried cooking buckwheat groats bought in bulk from PCC I ended up with a pot of clumpy buckwheat kasha that resembled oatmeal and was not what I am used to. Finally my mom got buckwheat groats from a Russian store that did not fall apart during the cooking. As I understand there are different types of buckwheat groats - ones that fall apart and those that don't. Who would have thought?!

Buckwheat is actually not a grain but a fruit seed and is closely related to sorrel and rhubarb. It has many health benefits - lowers bad cholesterol and blood pressure and I like its texture.

Last Friday I made buckwheat with chanterelles, carrots and shallot and served it with a salad one night and with short ribs the next. Here is my recipe.


2 cups of water
1 cup of buckwheat groats
1/2 lb of carrots, sliced into desired pieces
1 shallot, chopped
3/4 lb of chanterelle mushrooms, washed, cleaned and chopped
Olive Oil for cooking
Parsley for serving


1. To cook buckwheat groats use ratio of buckwheat to water 1 to 2. Combine 1 cup of buckwheat with 2 cups of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid, turn heat low or medium low (depending on your stove) and let it cook for 15 minutes.

2. In a meantime pour a little bit of olive oil (2 tablespoons) in a pot (I use dutch oven) and on medium heat saute shallot until they start getting translucent, add mushrooms and carrots and continue cooking until all ingredients start getting a nice brown color. Cover pan with a lid, turn the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes until mushrooms are cooked and carrots are soft. Check to see that mushrooms are not burning and add a little bit of water if needed. This time I used carrots from my garden. They were small but mine!

3. Once chanterelles and carrots are cooked add buckwheat groats to it and mix. Salt to taste. Add chopped parsley. Buckwheat is ready to be served. My husband likes to add a little bit of olive oil to buckwheat since he finds it to be on a dry side. I have to agree that it can be dry but I usually have buckwheat with something that has juice (like fresh tomatoes) or sauce (braised short ribs) so no extra oil is needed.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Whisky Marinated Salmon


1 and ½ lbs of fresh salmon, sliced into 2-3 inch pieces

2 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ cup of olive oil

2 tablespoons of tamari soy sauce

3 tablespoons of whisky

2 tablespoons of sugar

1 teaspoon of sesame oil


In a glass bowl mix together garlic, olive oil, soy sauce, whisky, brown sugar and sesame oil. Lay salmon pieces skin side up in a glass dish and pour marinade over. Cover with clear plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 6 hours or overnight.

Broil salmon skin side down for about 4 minutes. Turn the oven from broil to 425F and cook salmon for another 4 minutes or until it is cooked to your preference. Make sure not to burn the salmon.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Must-See - Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit in Seattle

Last night we went to see Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit in Seattle Center. What a beautiful creation!!! My favorite was Persian Ceiling. Exhibit is a bit pricey ($19) but King County residents get a discount ($15 per ticket). For more information see the Exhibit web site. Below are pictures I took, mostly of Persian Ceiling. Worth a visit!