chimichurri egg salad

chimichurri egg salad sandwich

Egg salads are simple yet superbly fantastic! I find the concept fascinating, where you can take something as simple as a hardboiled egg and wrap it in a whole bunch of flavors and the end product is amazing. Eat it plain or sandwiched between bread it's easy comfort food at its best.

eggs for chimichurri egg salad

I'm a big fan of salad dressings that have fresh herbs and bold flavors and chimichurri never disappoints. There are so many delicious herbs blended into this sauce, fresh cilantro, parsley and oregano with garlic and chili peppers. My favorite part about egg salad sandwiches, stuff them till they are bursting from the sides! The egg salad tastes delicious when made immediately but even tastes good the day after as the vinegar helps to pickle the eggs and the flavors mature even more on standing.

chimichurri egg salad chimichurri sauce

I recommend mixing half of the sauce with the eggs and then seasoning it with additional salt and pepper if necessary. You can increase the amount of chimichurri in the eggs if you like it a little more saucy. The rest of the sauce can be served on the side and/or drizzled over the egg salad sandwich. 

chimichurri flavored egg salad sandwich

chimichurri egg salad

yields: 4 - 6 servings

ingredients 

2 cups cilantro leaves, fresh
1 cup flat leaf parsley, fresh
1/3 cup oregano leaves, fresh
2 thai green chili peppers
1 shallot, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
6 hardboiled eggs, peeled
bread, sliced and toasted
1 cup microgreens, fresh

1. Add all the ingredients from the cilantro to the pepper, in a food processor. Pulse for about 30 seconds until completely smooth.
2. In a large mixing bowl mash the eggs with a fork or potato masher to form a coarse crumbly mixture. 
3. Stir in half of the chimchurri sauce into the mashed eggs. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.  Allow to sit for at least 20 minutes before serving.
4. To prepare the egg salad sandwiches, scoop a generous amount of eggs on bread slices and top with microgreens. Drizzle the egg salad with a little chimichurri sauce and serve the extra sauce on the side. You can store the egg salad in the refrigerator in airtight container for unto 2-3 days.

spelt skillet naan

spelt skillet naan

Naan, is probably the most popular menu item requested at my home whenever I invite guests over for an Indian meal. It has all the good qualities of a flatbread bread which in my opinion are: be able to sop up and grab curries, gravies and sauces or even morsels of vegetables or meat. I like my naans to be soft and tender in texture and blistered for that delicious caramelized flavor. There is also something wonderful to be said about preparing your own bread at home, be it in an oven or in a skillet. As the heat hits the dough, it brings about the warm nutty flavors of the grain, lending an aromatic sweetness to the air which makes it simply perfect. There are so many different kinds of wonderful flatbreads that are cooked in different cultures and hopefully, I will have tried my hand at making each and every one of them by some point in my life! 

spelt skillet naan

I've shared a few naan recipes here in the past and using my skillet still remains my favorite way to prepare them. This new version uses spelt flour, an ancient ancestor of modern day wheat. The addition of spelt to this recipe adds fiber and nutrients making these traditional Indian flatbreads a healthier option. Stick with the ratios for the two flours, here to get a soft naan. I would highly recommend using a food scale to weigh the flours, having a simple, good quality, reliable scale is really worth the investment. 

nigella and flour

In this recipe, I use a combination of sea-salt crystals and nigella seeds to season the naan. Alternatively, you can also use my cilantro-garlic butter seasoning to flavor the naans. It is completely up to you! This basic naan recipe also works well when you want to stuff the naans with vegetables like I did previously in these pumpkin naans. To cook the naans on the skillet, you can use either vegetable or melted butter, both work great and each gives it's own unique flavor to the bread.

spelt skillet naan with nigella

spelt skillet naan

yields : 12 naans

ingredients

9 1/4 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour + a little extra flour for rolling out the naans
9 1/4 ounces (2 cups minus 2 tablespoons) spelt flour 
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil 
1/2 cup vegetable oil (canola oil) or melted butter for cooking the naans (you may end up using less of either to cook the naans)
1/4 cup sea salt crystals 
1/4 cup nigella seeds

1. Sift the 9 1/4 ounces of all-purpose and spelt flours, salt and sugar together in a bowl. Add any grain bits that might be left behind back into the flour. Do this three times.
2. Add the sifted flour, eggs, yogurt, and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the dough blade attachment, combine the ingredients completely and mix on low speed until it comes together to form a ball of dough. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently knead the dough in the same bowl to form a ball. Brush the one tablespoon of oil over the dough, cover the dough with cling film and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for at least 4 hours . 
3. Place the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface and divide it into 12 equal parts using a knife or a pastry scraper. The dough will be slightly elastic. Take one part and roll it into a ball with your hands. Stretch the dough into a tear-drop shape by pulling it gently in one direction and using the base of your palm to hold it down at the opposite end. Each stretched out naan should not be too thin or it will tear. Sprinkle a little bit of the nigella seeds and sea salt over the surface of the naan (you can use as little or as much as you want with the nigella and salt, I personally tend to use less salt). Press the seeds and salt crystals into the naan by rolling the seasoned surface lightly with a rolling pin.
4. Heat a skillet with a tight fitting lid on a high flame, add one  teaspoon of oil and spread the oil by rotating the skillet with your hand. As soon as the oil is heat, slap the bottom surface (unseasoned side) of the naan directly on to the skillet. Cover the skillet immediately with the lid. This seals the steam in which is necessary to cook the naan and give it its characteristic blistered appearance. Drizzle another teaspoon of vegetable oil over the naan. After about 3-4 minutes, flip the naan and reduce the flame to a medium and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove the hot naan and keep it covered between a layer of clean cloth or paper towels to absorb the steam. Serve hot/warm. Naan is best eaten the day it is prepared, however if you need to store them, wrap the flatbread between clean kitchen paper towel sheets and store in an airtight gallon ziploc bag. 

avocado dark-chocolate madeleines

Avocado dark-chocolate madeleines

A couple of weekends ago we did something crazy, we went out and bought a power boat. After an endless wait of two weeks (which isn't that long but we are both terribly impatient), the boat was finally delivered to D.C. late last week and of course, we spent every day of the entire weekend taking it out on the Potomac. As a kid, I'd been on the ocean on a few ships and a fishing boat once but this was much different. Fresh waters are so different from the sea and it smells less too which is nice, though I would not mind the ocean one bit! Snoopy is still adjusting and we hope that eventually (more like sooner) we can stop carrying him on and off the boat as he is too scared to make the jump himself and believe me carrying 45lbs on and off a boat after a few days is tiresome! On day one he whined a bit which I assumed to be his getting acclimated to an unfamiliar rocking motion on the boat (while we were docked), however by day two, he barked to say hi to every person that passed by. He enjoys the speed of the boat once it picks up and likes to stretch his head out to sniff the air and catch the wind. Snoopy is still struggling with the existence of some of the wildlife such as the flying herons and the swimming ducks and I think he will soon come to terms with it. He likes to do things at his own pace. Our dog runs our life, house, and now the boat!

boat

I'm curious to learn fishing but for now one license at a time is good, first I need to get my boating license so I can learn to drive. It is interesting to see how the waters get so busy here but I enjoy the people watching part while they boat and kayak their way through. More than anything, I am really looking forward to docking in Old Town Alexandria and eating out at some of the waterfront restaurants. 

Snoopy on the boat

I've been trying to do better this year by consuming a few avocados a week to gain some healthy fat in my diet. Consequently, avocados were bound to make their way into my food and they did just that by occupying a spot in these delicious dark chocolate madeleines. This was my first time baking madeleines as well as using avocados as a butter substitute. Everything turned out delicious and I was excited to use my madeleine baking pan that I found at an antique store in North Carolina a few months back. To stick with theme of using less fat, I sprayed the pan's molds with a light neutral cooking spray oil which worked out perfectly, instead of greasing it the traditional way with butter. Make sure you use a soft and ripe avocado and puree it to complete smoothness to avoid any fibrous textures or clumps of avocado meat. Since the traditional technique to prepare madeleines involves the use of melted butter, I warmed up the avocado puree in a water-bath to help solubilize some of the fat. Another tip while working with the batter, spoon it in and spread it a little to fill the mold, it will rise during baking and puff up well. 

butter-free madelines1

Overall the entire weekend was a set of first firsts for me and each one of these experiences from boating to my baking experiments. I've realized that I am always happy when I bake!

madeline pan and avocado1

avocado dark-chocolate madeleines

yields: 16-18 large madeleines

ingredients

3/4 cup unbleached cake flour
1/4 cup dark cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ripe avocado
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a little confectioner's sugar for dusting

1. Place a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F. 
2. Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt and keep aside. 
3. Mash and puree the avocado to get a smooth paste (you can use a food processor for this). Seal the puree with cling film in a glass bowl and place the bowl with the puree in a warm-water bath at 70C till use (this helps to melt out some of the fat and make it smoother).
4. Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whisk the eggs for 5 minutes on medium speed until light and foamy. Add the sugar and vanilla and whisk for an additional 5 minutes on medium-high speed until thick and creamy. Remove the mixer bowl from the stand mixer. 
5. Sift the flour-cocoa mixture into the whisked eggs and carefully fold the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula using a circular motion. Fold the pre-warmed avocado puree into the batter. 
6. Generously coat a madeleine baking pan with a neutral cooking oil spray. Spoon and spread out the cake batter into the molds. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. The madeleines are baked and ready to be removed when the center is firm and springs back when pressed with the fingers. Remove the madeleines from the tray and allow them to cool on a wire rack. You can store them in an airtight container.
7. Before serving, dust the madeleines with a little confectioner's sugar using a sieve. 

north indian-style scrambled eggs

Indian Scrambled Eggs

This has been a week of delicious breakfasts and brunches and my favorite meal was the dim-sum brunch we partook at the China Garden restaurant in neighboring Rosslyn. We pretty much gorged ourselves while savoring a wide variety of dim-sum served fresh off little carts that passed by our table. It is so hard to control yourself when there are so many amazing and fascinating flavors, shapes, and colors to try and that was our excuse to overeat. If you are ever in the D.C. area, this is definitely a place worth trying. Just make sure you get there at least 45 minutes before the restaurant opens, the waiting lines are generally long, though they do move pretty quickly.

Farm Fresh Eggs
Eggs Onions and Cilantro

With all this talk of breakfast and brunch, it would be only be fitting that I share this recipe with you. This is perhaps one of my favorite North Indian breakfast recipes that we ate quite often at home. To me this is also probably a fun and flavorful way to begin the morning with a delicious plate of hot scrambled eggs served on fresh flatbread or toast. On occasion when I am in the mood for a quick and easy meal for lunch or dinner, I will prepare a batch of these scrambled eggs and polish them off with a little toast. For a lighter fare, I frequently exclude the yolks and only use the egg whites. The turmeric will give the egg whites a deep yellow color making up for the yolks' absence. You can also use tofu as an egg substitute, just be sure to use an extra-firm to firm grade of tofu that has been drained of its packaging water.

Turmeric and Scrambled Eggs

There are several complex notes and flavors in this simple dish. Ghee is a common dairy based fat that is a staple of Indian cooking. It is made by heating cream collected from milk till the fat and solids separate. The fat is collected and cooled and used as ghee. Since it is a source of saturated fat, I rarely use it while cooking and if I do I tend to cut back quite bit and just add a tiny amount to the dish to impart its characteristic nutty flavor. Of course, there are some other wonderful spices and herbs in this recipe that lend these eggs their bold flavor. The freshly chopped chilies and cilantro leaves along with the dash of turmeric give the eggs a bright color and flavor. I recommend serving the scrambled eggs hot with a side of fresh feta cheese. 

Breakfast with spiced scrambled eggs

north indian-style scrambled eggs

servings: 4

ingredients

6 large eggs
1 teaspoon ghee or butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 tablespoon ginger root, peeled and cut into thin 1inch strip
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes or chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 green thai chili peppers, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro 

1. Carefully crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk with a fork till they are uniformly combined.  Keep the eggs aside.
2. Heat a large cast-iron or non-stick skillet on a medium flame. Melt the ghee with the olive oil in the skillet. Add the onion and sauté for about 2 minutes till they are soft.
3. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 3 minutes. Stir constantly to prevent the garlic and ginger from burning. 
4. Add the turmeric, garam masala, chili flakes, and salt to the pan. Cook for another minute with constant stirring. 
5. Reduce the flame and pour the whisked eggs into the hot skillet. The eggs will begin to cook immediately, gently stir the eggs as you would for regular scrambled eggs. Scrape the eggs from the bottom and sides of the pan as the eggs begin to cook and get creamy. As soon as the eggs are creamy, turn the flame off. 
6. Toss in the chopped thai chili peppers and garnish with the chopped cilantro leaves. Serve hot with paratha, roti, or bread and a side of fresh feta cheese.

eggplant kuku


Last week was all about new experiences, I rescued a baby bird (it turned out to be a wren) from our sidewalk. The bird was sitting on the sidewalk, afraid and shaking. Not having the heart to let it spend the night out in the rain and potentially exposed to the dogs and cats of our neighborhood, I picked him up and brought him home. Since I could not get to the rescue facility, I kept him for a couple of days. I let him out during the day in our garden where I knew he'd be safe. Soon he came to recognize my voice and footsteps and would chirp and try to follow me around. Within a couple of days he was stronger and started to flap his wings to fly. It was time to let him back in the wild and we took him to a nearby park and left him under a bush where we knew he'd be safe. A few hours later we came back to check on him and he had made himself a little nest.  I knew then that he would survive, I really hope he is flying somewhere right now. There was a moment where I'd thought I might just keep him but one pet for now is more than enough. Plus, I don't think Snoopy was too happy with the temporary shift in attention. 


As with new experiences, I experimented in my kitchen this week and I think I might have my new potential brunch favorite, it looks like frittata but is so very different and has its own special charm. It is fragrant and colorful and can be combined with any type of vegetable or meat that you can think of. This baked egg casserole is called a kuku and goes well by itself or as an accompaniment to any meal. For this particular kuku, I used a large eggplant and some fresh herbs that we picked up at the Dupont Circle's Farmer's Market. I mention this later again in the recipe, sometimes eggplants can have a little bitter taste and you can extract the bitter flavor out by soaking the cut vegetable for a couple of minutes with some cold water and salt. Just remember to rinse the eggplant pieces in plain cold water and then wiping them dry before you cook.


You can add almost any type of fresh herb to this casserole, I used dill in this particular kuku but I've also made it with fresh parsley. What makes this delicious kuku different from other stuffed egg casserole dish, is that it uses a little lime juice, flour, and baking soda. I liked the meaty texture of the eggplant with the eggs, they both somehow come together and melt when you take a bite. This is definitely one of my new top additions to my weekend brunch menu and I think you  might want to add it to yours! I adapted this recipe from "Food of Life" by cook and author Najmeih Batmaglij.


eggplant kuku 

ingredients

8 large eggs
1 large eggplant (approximately 2 cups of peeled and diced eggplant)
1 large white onion (approximately 1 cup of diced onion)
2 garlic cloves
1/2 chopped fresh dill/parsley/cilantro
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon dried bread crumbs
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
extra salt to wash the eggplant

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Heat a 10 inch diameter cast iron skillet on a medium flame and add the olive oil. Peel the eggplant and cut out four thin slices (about 2mm thick), you will use these to garnish the kuku. Keep the eggplant slices aside. Dice the rest of the eggplant into 1/2 inch cubes and let them sit in a cold water and a little salt for 20 minutes. This helps to remove the bitterness of the eggplant. Discard the liquid (it will appear brown), rinse the chopped eggplant under running tap water. Pat them dry with a clean towel.
2. Peel and dice the onion and add it to the hot oil. Cook the onion till it gets golden brown, this should take about. Smash the garlic and peel the skin off, the finely chop the garlic and add it to the onions in the skillet and stir for 2 minutes. Add the chopped and washed eggplant to the onion and garlic mixture. Cook for another 15 minutes till the eggplant is translucent. Transfer the eggplant mix from the skillet into a bowl and let them cool for 10 minutes. 
3. Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Chop the dill/parsley/cilantro, the flour, baking powder, turmeric, bread crumbs, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Whisk for about a minute to mix all the ingredients. Make sure that there are no flour clumps in the mixture. Fold the cooled eggplant mix into the whisked egg batter. 
4. Melt the butter in the same iron skillet on a medium flame. Remove the skillet from the gas. Make sure that the melted butter coats the surface of the pan completely. Pour the egg batter into the center of the skillet and place the four eggplant slices (that you cut and kept aside earlier) on the surface of the batter. and transfer the skillet to the heated oven and bake for 40 minutes or until the surface is golden brown and the center is cooked (test the center of the eggs with a skewer, if it comes out clean then the eggs are cooked). Remove the kuku from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes before cutting and serving. It will also be easier to remove the kuku from the bottom of the skillet. Serve warm by itself or with plain rice and yogurt.


avgolemono


What a way to start a post, an earthquake in Washington after 67 years! Thankfully, no one was hurt and damage appears to be minimal so far. Since, people started to panic getting home was a challenge with traffic gridlocks everywhere. Work gave us the remainder of the day off and I finally ended up walking home. This is my final post on lemons for now that completes my entire lemon themed lunch. I think I may have found my new favorite soup, Avgolemono, the egg-lemon soup that is so very popular in Greek cuisine. The creamy richness of this lemon soup makes for a wonderful dip for a warm and crusty slice of bread. I made several alterations to this soup, mainly through playing around with the components of my chicken stock. The addition of fennel stalks and leaves to the chicken stock was purely coincidence. Since, I can never figure out what to do with some vegetable parts that I am unable to use in some recipes, I normally freeze them and use them in making stocks. I substituted barley instead of short-grained rice that is usually used to make this soup. 


avgolemono

yield: 6 servings

ingredients

1.5 liters water
1lb lean chicken breast
1 whole red onion halved
4 cloves
4 bay leaves
1 lemon, chopped in half
1 bunch fennel leaves and stalk
6 unpeeled garlic cloves, cut in half
3 eggs separated
1/3 cup barley or short grain rice
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
fresh mint or parsley for garnishing

1. In a large stockpot, add 1.5 liters of water, chicken, onion, cloves, bay leaves, the halved lemon, fennel, and garlic. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season. Slowly bring the water to boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let it simmer until the chicken is cooked. Remove the chicken and keep aside to cool. Strain the stock completely and discard the solids. 
2. Add the stock back to the stockpot and add the barley/rice to it and let it cook on a reduced flame until the rice is tender. In the meantime, shred the chicken. 
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites till they form stiff peaks and then beat in the yolks. Carefully, beat in the lemon juice. 
4. Now temper the eggs with approximately 150ml of the hot stock solution by immediately whisking it into the beaten egg mixture. Now add the entire tempered egg mixture to the stock pot with careful stirring. Make sure the stock is not boiling and is simmering, this will prevent the eggs from coagulating. 
5. Add the chicken and season the soup with salt and pepper as necessary. Serve the soup with fresh lemon slices in individual bowls. Garnish with fresh mint or parsley leaves.


Hopefully, no more calamities or traffic jams for a while or is that too much wishful thinking ?