Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Washington Arboretum Azaleas are starting to bloom

This past weekend I strolled through the Azalea Way in the Arboretum. Azaleas are just starting to bloom so with this nice warm stretch of weather this week the flowers should be in full bloom pretty soon. Here are few pictures I took.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Baking Madeleines

I love Madeleines with a cup of cappuccino. Few years ago I found a recipe for these buttery cakes on AllRecipes.com and have done it a few times with slight modifications. This morning I made them again for Easter. Here is the recipe I used.


2 eggs
3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
lemon zest of one small lemon
1/4 cup of butter plus more for buttering the pan


1. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Butter the madeleine pan and set aside.

2. Melt butter in a microwave - about 45 seconds, cover with a paper towel to prevent butter explosion! Let butter cool at a room temperature.

3. Using a hand mixer beat eggs, vanilla and salt in a large bowl until light. Continue beating the eggs and slowly add sugar. I stopped once all ingredients looked incorporated together and there was a bubbly foam on top.

4. Add flour, spoonful at a time, into the egg mixture and gently fold. Patience is the key in baking. Take your time. Then grate lemon zest over the bowl. Add melted butter that should have cooled off by now into the bowl and gently stir. Spoon batter into the madeleine molds. Bake in the oven for 15-17 minutes, or until cakes are golden.

5. Using the tip of the knife loosen the madeleines from the pan, transfer on to a cooling rack and let cool. I plan on serving them with fresh strawberries and yogurt on Easter and just have them with a cup of coffee.

Keeping the Russian Easter Tradition alive - coloring eggs in onion shells

Easter is tomorrow and I am coloring the eggs using the onion shells, the same way my mother has been doing for decades. Here is the recipe.


White Eggs (I use 5-6)
Yellow onion shells (from about 10 big onions or as many as you can get)
Cold water


Put onion shells in a large pot, add cold water and eggs. Make sure there is enough water so eggs and shells are fully submerged. Cook on medium heat until water starts to boil, then reduce heat to medium/medium low and let eggs cook for another 25 minutes. For a darker brown color leave some eggs for another 10 minutes. Take eggs out and let them cool.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mussels in Coconut Curry Broth

Over the years I have enjoyed eating mussels in coconut curry broth at different restaurants in Seattle and have been thinking about making them myself at home. So this month I did, and a few times.

The recipe I came up with can be modified to fit individual tastes. The ingredients list is pretty simple given you have an Asian market nearby. I prefer to have a kick in my broth so I add more curry paste. If you don't, start with less and then add more later if needed. I also use low sodium chicken broth since I would rather add salt later. Plus different curry pastes have different amount of salt in them. For a more dense broth add more coconut milk. But if you are like me and cannot look at the amount of saturated fat 13.5 oz can has then add half or a third. Here is the recipe I adopted.


2-2.5 lbs of mussels, rinsed, cleaned. (I usually buy 3 lbs at least because you need to toss the ones that are open and/or broken. I buy mussels at the Taylor Shellfish store in the Melrose Market.)
1/2 can (about 6 oz) of coconut milk
8 oz of low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon of Olive or other vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of red curry paste (This gives me heat of about 2-3 stars, the brand of the paste is Aroy-D and is sold at Ranch 99 or Uwajimaya)
1 small shallot finely chopped
1 tablespoon of finely chopped lemongrass stock (white part only)
1 tablespoon of sugar
4 kafir lime leaves, chopped
salt to taste
fresh chopped cilantro and green onions for garnish
1 white baguette to serve


1. In a large pot (I use my Le Creuset dutch oven) on medium high heat saute shallot, lemongrass and lime leaves in olive oil for 1 minute. Add curry paste and mix, let cook for 30 seconds. Add sugar, coconut milk, chicken broth and bring to a boil. Boil for about 3 minutes. Taste the broth and add sugar, more milk or salt if needed.

2. Add mussels to the broth, reduce heat to medium and cover with a lid. Let cook for 3 minutes until mussels open up. Serve with fresh baguette so you can dip it into the broth. I prefer Columbia City baguette.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival April 2014

This year we went to see the Skagit Valley tulips early. The Festival runs all April. March has been very rainy this year in Seattle and so tulips are only now starting to bloom. They need sun. We drove today to Mt. Vernon and La Conner and had a nice time walking through the muddy tulip fields, enjoying the beauty of the RoozenGaarde gardens and taking pictures. The benefit of going early is smaller crowds and thus, faster drive. Mother nature also cooperated since it did not rain when we were there. Here are few pictures.