herbed goat cheese ball

Herbed Goat Cheese Ball | A Brown Table

After I painted the rooms in the last house in DC, I swore I'd never paint walls again but here I am now, knee deep in paint and stained. Not to say that it isn't fun and a good arm workout but a couple of hours through and I keep considering my sanity and life choices when it comes to painting. The prospect of cooking in the new kitchen has me very, very excited. It was one of the things that immediately blew me away when we looked at the house and I feel fortunate that we were able to get it. Snoopy on the other hand has found it to be an exhausting experience, he spends most of his time running around the house while we work but he makes sure he gets his nap time, in and out of the sun.

Between wall painting and backyard cleaning, there was a mini blogger reunion last weekend and I got to spend some time with the lovely Molly and Lindsey who were visiting the San Francisco Bay on a quick trip for work. Oddly enough, it was also a reunion of sorts for those of us that live in the Bay but don't get a chance to meet each other as often as we'd like to. Our little party also included my local fellow bloggers and pals, Michelle, Phyllis, Todd and Phi, we met up for drinks at Prizefighter

Speaking of bars and drinks, I'm a huge fan of serving drinks with a few small bites. Cheese is usually a good accompaniment to most drinks and with so many varieties to choose from it makes it an ideal pairing option. There are cheese slices and cheese balls, and cheese balls are an amazing invention. The first time I tasted a cheese ball, was several years ago during an Easter dinner in Virginia. We were visiting M's family and his mother made two large cheese balls coated with all sorts of delicious things. She prepares them in the afternoon, the first one disappears by the time its made, the second one disappears by dinner. Taking some inspiration from her, I've made a fall themed, herbed coated cheeseball that has sweet cranberries and pumpkin seeds and a dash of hot sriracha sauce for a kick. http://blog.westelm.com/2015/10/30/herbed-goat-cheese-balls/

To get the recipe and learn how to make this cheeseball, headover to West Elm's blog,Front + Main!

herbed goat cheese ball | A Brown Table
Herbed Goat Cheese Ball | A Brown Table

Disclaimer: Thank you to West Elm for sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed are purely my own.

green goddess rasam

Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table

I'm back after a wonderful and much needed vacation in India. Though I wish it were longer, two weeks was definitely too short of a time to spend with my family and visit Bombay and Goa. Still we managed to get quite a bit of sight seeing done between two weddings and celebrations.  It should also go without saying that this vacation involved a lot of eating. There were Christmas sweets and treats my mom had prepared plus all the restaurants we tried out, then the food at all the different celebrations, the list goes on. Though, I've shared some of my photographs on Instagram, I'll be writing more about my trip, tips and experiences on both these lovely cities in the upcoming weeks.

Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table

There were three things my body craved for as soon as we got back from India, the first being sleep (the jet lag is intense), the second warm weather (winter in Bombay and Goa is around 80+ degree F) and the third, lighter meals. One of my favorite South Indian soups is rasam (pronounced rus-um), which can best be described as a spiced, fiery peppery broth that is rather light yet wholesome. Rasam is considered by some to having a healing touch when it comes to colds and it is one of my favorite soups to enjoy during the cold days of winter. It is also the perfect soup to eat after a 22 hour-long flight.

Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table
Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table
Instead of going with the traditional tomato based recipe that makes a reddish-brown colored rasam, I've changed things up here a bit and taken several liberties along with a little inspiration from a rasam dish we tried at Jigg Kalra's modern Indian restaurant Masala Library in Bombay and from Bon Appétit's Green Goddess dressing . The end result is a light lentil broth that's full of spicy heat and fresh herb flavors, making it one refreshing soup!
Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table
Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips while preparing this soup;

  • I used split red lentils because they are quick and easy to cook but you can use the traditional split yellow pigeon peas (toor dal) in the same amount.
  • 20 peppercorns might seem a lot but it gives this soup its characteristic fiery taste. I've added a Serrano pepper here for heat but if you prefer a hotter green chili, add it. If you like it less hot, remove the seeds and only use the pepper. 
  • *Mustard greens can be replaced with spinach and the cilantro with parsley. 
  • If you can't find tamarind paste, you can use 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice.
  • This soup will get darker as it ages or if it is heated. The chlorophyll pigment in the greens gets dark when exposed to air or heat which is why I add the green paste towards the end after the broth base has cooled down a little. I also serve this soup immediately as soon as it is prepared to keep it as brightly green as possible. 
Green Goddess Rasam | A Brown Table

green goddess rasam

serves: 6-8


20 black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

3/4 cup split red lentils (masoor dal), cleaned and washed

8 cups water, at room temperature

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon tamarind paste (you might need to add a little more)

2 cups packed mustard green leaves (mid rib removed and discarded), fresh* 

1 bunch cilantro leaves, fresh*

1/4 cup packed tarragon leaves, fresh

6 scallions, fresh (both white and green parts to be used, trim and discard the root end)

1 large (about 2 tablespoons chopped) serrano chili pepper, chopped (if you prefer less hot, remove the seeds) 

2 cloves (about 3 tablespoons) garlic, peeled and minced

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt

4 tablespoons neutral tasting vegetable oil (you can use olive oil)

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

4 dried Kashmiri chilis (about 1 inch in length)

6 curry leaves (fresh or dried)

1. Grind the peppercorns, cumin and coriander seeds to form a coarse powder using mortar and pestle or a spice/coffee bean grinder. 

2. Add the ground spices along with the turmeric, lentils and water to a large thick-bottomed stock pot. Heat on a high flame and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the flame to a medium-high and cook for about 10 minutes or until the lentils are soft and translucent. Take about 1/2 cup of the liquid and mix it with the tomato paste and tamarind to form a slurry. Transfer this slurry back into the stockpot and stir to combine. Cook for one minute, remove from stove and keep the broth aside and allow to cool for 10 minutes before adding the green paste (prepared in step 3).

3. Place all the ingredients from the mustard greens to the garlic cloves, along with 1/2 cup of the broth (avoid adding the lentils from the broth) in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until you get a smooth paste. Stir this paste into the warm lentil broth. Add the salt and taste, adjust seasoning if necessary (you might need to add a little more salt or tamarind).

4. Heat the oil in small saucepan or skillet on medium-high. As soon as the oil is hot (after about 45-60 seconds) add the mustard seeds and heat until they begin to sputter. Once the seeds start to sputter, add the chilis and the curry leaves and heat for another 10-12 seconds, they will puff up and darken a little. Immediately remove and pour this hot mixture over the soup. Serve the soup immediately in bowls. You can also serve this with plain rice on the side.