Sour Beets

Since having our baby girl, we realized that having friends and family over for dinner is a little more difficult than it once was. We love cooking and hosting, but given that she goes to bed in the 6 o’clock hour and lets be honest, most people are coming over to see her and not us anyway, dinners just weren’t that convenient. Instead of giving up, we decided to start having people over for brunch! Everyone loves brunch ,and the baby is super friendly and cute in the mornings! We call our brunches “Hedgehog Brunch,” because the baby’s nickname is Hedgehog. (Side note, I think that’s how we’ll start referring to her on here, since “the baby” is a little generic. We’re not comfortable sharing her name and face with the wild, wild west of the whole internet.)

And no, these Sour Beets are not on our brunch menu. That usually consists of Selim’s biscuits (recipe forthcoming…), fruit, sausage and/or bacon, and eggs. But because we eat such a big brunch in the late morning, we’re frequently not that hungry at dinnertime on those nights. We usually just want something lighter and frequently just eat some vegetables for dinner. Hence our dinner tonight of this beet dish! This recipe comes from February’s Cookbook Club selection – Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking, by Toni Tipton-Martin. This book is beautiful and educates the reader about African American culinary influence, a legacy that is often overlooked. I thought this particular recipe would be a great place to start because Selim loves beets, but only tolerates vinegar, while I love vinegar and only tolerate beets! Perfect right? As we were eating, Selim deemed this “hot beet slaw,” which is exactly what it is! He didn’t love it (too vinegary), but I really enjoyed it! We also thought next time we might add some carrots too.

Sour Beets

(Adapted from Jubilee, by Toni Tipton-Martin)
Ingredients:
  • 2 tsp neutral oil
  • 1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Black pepper
  • 1 large beet or 2 medium beets, cut into matchsticks (~3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, sliced to similar thickness as the beets
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onions to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes. Season with a few turns of black pepper.
  2. Add the beets to the pan, stirring to combine with other ingredients. Cook for just another 1 minute.
  3. Then add the water, salt, sugar, and vinegar. Bring to a boil and then cover and lower the heat to so the liquid is simmering. Cook like this for 15 minutes. (If you like your beets a little softer, go for 20 minutes.)
  4. Remove the lid, add the apples, and cook at a vigorous simmer for another 5-10 minutes, until a lot of the liquid has evaporated and the beets are your desired texture!
  5. Stir in the lemon zest and juice prior to serving. Adjust salt and pepper if need be.
Serves 4 as a side

Turkish Manti

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I distinctly remember the first time I had manti. It was on my first visit to Istanbul. Selim’s cousins took us out to dinner one night at a restaurant I wish I could remember 🤷‍♀️ I was eyeing the mantı, that was described in English as “lamb dumplings in yogurt sauce.” One of Selim’s cousins saw me considering it and explained that is a traditional Turkish favorite. It is such a unique combination… The manti are hot, but then the yogurt sauce is cool, followed by the oil drizzle that’s hot! It seems like the pieces shouldn’t come together, but they do perfectly. The whole table ended up ordering mantı! I was hooked!

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Now I seek manti out whenever we go to a Turkish restaurant. (Probably to the detriment of trying other delicious dishes, but I just can’t NOT order it.) For awhile there, we felt like we were in the secret cool kids club at Sultan Kebab in Charlottesville, because while there wasn’t any manti on the menu, if you knew to ask for it, they almost always had some for you! That quickly became the worst kept secret in town (thanks to chefs exposing the secret via Charlottesville 29 I think…), and now it shows up on the menu. We’ve also learned from experience that if you have a group of people for dinner who can’t decide whether they want a delicious kebab or to try the manti, manti makes a perfect shared appetizer too!

This is one of the dishes that we love so much are were afraid to try at home for fear of messing it up. Not to mention, it is fairly time-consuming as well. But we were SUPER excited at how well this came out. Also, it’s gorgeous! The dough for the dumplings came together easier than other doughs I’ve tried before for similar projects. We had two failings that are quite easy to correct for next time. One, we forgot the dried mint at the store. By which I mean, we picked it up, had it with all our other stuff, and somehow didn’t come home with it 🤷‍♀️ The dish is delicious without it, but don’t skip it if you can. It adds another layer of flavor. And two, we didn’t quite have the dumplings all the way submerged when they were cooking, which made the tops a little dry on some of them. Learn from our mistakes! Another side note – you should be able to find Turkish pepper at a Middle Eastern grocery. If not, substitute Aleppo pepper.

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Turkish Manti

(Minimally adapted from Sultan’s Kitchen by Ozcan Ozan)
Ingredients: 
  • Dumplings
    • 2+ cups AP flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 1+ tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 cup cold milk
    • 1/2 lb ground lamb
    • 1/2 cup onion, grated
    • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
    • 1/2 tsp Turkish pepper
    • 4 grinds fresh black pepper
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 2 cups beef stock
  • Yogurt Sauce
    • 1 2/3 cups “Greek” yogurt
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Spiced Butter
    • 5 1/2 tbsp clarified butter
    • 1/2 tsp Turkish pepper
    • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
    • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
    • 1 tsp dried mint
Instructions: 
  1. Prepare the dough in a large bowl. Sift together the flour and salt, then create a well in the center. Lightly beat the eggs and pour these, along with the olive oil and milk into the well. Stir together with a fork until the dough starts to come together.
  2. Then turn it out onto a floured counter-top and use your hands to form into a dough ball. Knead for ~8 minutes. Place the dough ball into a greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth to rest for 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the filling and yogurt sauce.
  4. For the filling, combine the lamb, onion, parsley, peppers, and salt in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. For the yogurt sauce, stir together the yogurt, garlic, and salt. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  7. After the dough has rested, roll it out to 1/16th inch thick. (We used our pasta roller attachment for the stand mixer.) Then cut the dough into 2 x 2 inch squares.
  8. To make the dumplings, place ~ 1/2 tsp of meat filling in the center of each square. Bring the four corners together and then twist to seal. Press down to flatten slightly.
  9. Place the dumplings in a greased deep baking dish (or two, depending on the size you use).
  10. Bake them for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the dumplings from the oven and pour stock over until all of the dumplings are just submerged in the liquid. Lower the heat to 325 degrees and return to the oven. Cook for another 10-15 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, heat the clarified butter in a small saucepan. Add the spices and swirl together. Keep on very low heat until ready to serve.
  12. Once the dumplings are cooked, place some on each plate. Pour the yogurt sauce over top and then drizzle with the butter.
Serves 4

Potatoes Vindaloo

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Tonight’s recipe is our second effort from Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi. Our first attempt was the super unique Eggplant & Mango Soba Noodles, which we loved! I love all things carbs, so a dish of not one, but two types of potatoes is right up my ally. We enjoyed cooking with curry leaves for the first time – so fresh and almost citrus-y! We got to explore a nearby Indian grocery a little more for some of these ingredients too, so that was fun! I expected this dish to be a little spicier (that’s what I think when I hear “vinadloo”), but it only has a mild spice to it. It is very spicED, but not spicY. So this lead me to research vindaloo a little bit. Turns out that ‘vindaloo’ comes from the Portuguese ‘carne de vinha d’alhos,’ which translates to ‘meat in garlic wine.’ This was a dish eaten by Portuguese sailors on the voyage to India because the meat was preserved. In India, the wine was replaced with vinegar, spices were added, and the name evolved to ‘vindaloo.’ So cool! I love the history of food!

We enjoyed this as a side dish (with scallops, so probably not a super common pairing 😂), but certainly it is meant to be a vegetarian main dish.

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Potatoes Vindaloo

(Adapted from Plenty by Ottolenghi)
Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated or chopped
  • 25 fresh curry leaves
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 large Russet potato, diced
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • Fresh cilantro
Instructions:
  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy pan or a dutch oven. Cook the shallots, mustard seeds, and fenugreek over medium-high heat, for 4-5 minutes, until shallots are browned and seeds are popping.
  2. Add the next nine ingredients (spices through curry leaves) and cook for another 3 minutes.
  3. While those are cooking, blitz the tomatoes in a food processor. Next, add the tomatoes, along with the vinegar, stock, sugar, and salt to the dish. Bring to a boil.
  4. Lower heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add the potatoes and peppers and continue cooking at a simmer, covered, for 45 minutes (or more, until potatoes are tender).
  5. Once the potatoes are tender, remove the lid and simmer for another 10 minutes so the sauce thickens.
  6. Remove the chili pepper and cinnamon sticks. Serve topped with fresh cilantro.
Serves 2 for dinner, 4 as a side

Eggplant & Mango Soba Noodles

For Cookbook Club this month, we’re cooking Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi. I love Ottolenghi… he’s one of my favorite chefs to follow on social media and I find his recipes universally delicious! I was introduced to him several years back when my sister gave me the cookbook Jerusalem that he co-authored with Sami Tamimi. It remains one of my favorite cookbooks. The pictures are gorgeous and the recipes are wonderful. While most of Ottolenghi recipes fall squarely into my comfort zone (mmmm… Middle Eastern food!), Plenty is a little bit outside it. The entire cookbook is vegetable-based! We love veggies here, but it’s rare that we eat truly vegetarian – especially our main dishes. I’m looking forward to embracing the challenge!

This first recipe caught my eye right off the bat, because the combination of ingredients seemed so unique to me. Who ever heard of combining mango and eggplant?? But as a thought about it, I figured it would probably be delicious. So here we are. And I was right – it IS a delicious combo. The dressing and the mango are sweet & sour, the eggplant is earthy, and the pepper and onions give it just a little bite! It’s also very easy to make – definitely doable on a weeknight or for a lunch.


Eggplant & Mango Soba Noodles

(Adapted from Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi)
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, zested & juiced
  • 1 cup oil (for frying)
  • 1/2 of a large eggplant, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 4 oz soba noodles
  • 1 mango, chopped into bite-sized chunks
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Instructions:
  1. Warm the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small pot, just for a minute or two, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the Aleppo pepper, garlic, and sesame oil.
  2. Once cool, add the onions, lime zest, and juice from about 1/2 the lime. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a tall-sided pan. Shallow fry the eggplant pieces in batches, removing when golden-brown, about 3-4 minutes. Place in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and allow them to drain off excess oil and water.
  4. Meanwhile cook the soba noodles in a pot of salted water, for 6-8 minutes, until al dente. Once cooked, rinse under cold running water.
  5. Once all the ingredients are cooled and dried, combine everything (dressing, eggplant, noodles, mango, and herbs) in a large bowl. Toss well. Serve cool.
Serves 2

Goodbye 2019!

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Happy New Year! Another year of blogging down! As I always say this time of year, I’m proud of us for keeping up with Bon Appetit Baby! for another year. With pregnancy and new parenthood, we’re still not blogging quite as much as we used to, but we’re still here! This was a big year for us, clearly. We welcomed our daughter to the world in July. We’ve learned (and are still learning) how to be parents to her. The rest of the events of the year pale in comparison to her, but we definitely ate some good food!

Speaking of, for New Year’s Eve this year, we didn’t blog our meal, but it was amazing! Selim made a stock from all manner of bones that we’ve been saving (chicken, turkey, pork ribs), cooking them down for hours with alliums, herbs, a few Asian touches (miso, fish sauce), and a couple surprise twists (loomi, cinnamon sticks). It sounds weird maybe, but the man is a genius when it comes to make unique sauces and soups. The result was the most delicious broth I think I’ve ever had! We used it as the base for a ramen that we shared with my parents and siblings for a fun New Year’s Eve dinner. I attempted ramen noodles from scratch, but didn’t quite get it right. They were fine, but I didn’t get that super chewy texture and yellowish color. They were certainly edible, but not exactly what I hoped for…

As we’ve done in previous years, we’re going to share some favorites, fun facts, and statistics from the past year of the blog. We obviously don’t write this blog for money or anything, so to be quite honest, we rarely look at our statistics except for when writing the year end review. It’s fun to see! So without further ado…

2019 Year in Review

Favorite Dishes of the Year:

♥ Ally: Pasta with Clams & SausageMaple & Mustard Pork with Shallots, & Sausages & Roasted Veggies in Agrodolce

♥ Selim: Rainbow Rice Krispie TreatsPumpkin Chip Bread, & Herby Stuffed Dates

Visitors: 

♥ 6,628 visits to the site, from 4,363 unique visitors! We’re always shocked to see this!

Nationalities of Visitors:

♥ US, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, France, Ireland, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Italy, Chile, Singapore, Japan, Turkey, Algeria, Switzerland, Philippines, Poland, Spain, Mexico, Israel, Nepal, Bermuda, UAE, Austria, Sweden, Hong Kong, Finland, Denmark, China, Romania, Brazil, Faroe Islands, Russia, Cyprus, Thailand, Serbia, Greece, Norway, Bahrain, Belgium, Portugal, South Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Latvia, Hungary, St. Kitts & Nevis, Guatemala, Qatar, Colombia, Kenya, Ghana, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Guam, Ecuador, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Tunisia, Jordan, Vietnam, Lebanon, Ukraine, Dominican Republic, Namibia, Argentina, Morocco, Kuwait, Lithuania, Malta, Estonia, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, Luxembourg, Croatia, Macedonia, Czech Republic, and Costa Rica!

Most Viewed Post & Most Pinned Post: 

♥ Another year, another win for Bay Scallop Risotto

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Accomplishments This Year: 

♥ A Brand New Kitchen! (Our second-most viewed post this year)

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♥ Had a baby. She’s the best!

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♥ Joined The Kitchn’s Cookbook Club

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Here’s to 2020! Hopefully it’s another year full of delicious food!

River Doughnuts

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Growing up, we would visit my grandparents at their home on the Rappahannock River for days and weeks at a time in the summers. We’d spend all day in the water and when we weren’t in the water, we were eating. The best was when my grandfather, known for his sweet tooth, would make us River Doughnuts for breakfast! What is a River Doughnut you ask? Well, it’s a way to add more sugar and butter to an already delicious and low-cal Krispy Kreme doughnut. It’s also a way to improve leftover, almost-getting-stale doughnuts, if you were unfortunate enough to not eat them before they got to that state. It’s so simple that I don’t even know if it can even be called a “recipe,” but we’ll share anyway.

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River Doughnuts

Ingredients: 
  • Leftover glazed doughnuts
  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
Instructions: 
  1. Slice the doughnuts in half.
  2. Spread a thin layer of butter on each half. Top with generous sprinkles of sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Place under the broiler for just a few minutes, watching closely, and removing when the tops are just beginning to brown.

Pumpkin Chip Bread

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December’s cookbook of the month is a classic – Joy of Cooking. Originally written  and self-published by Irma Rombauer in 1936,  this quintessentially American cookbook has sold more than 18 MILLION copies. We don’t own it, but I knew someone in my family did, so we borrowed a copy of the 1997 edition from my aunt. I’ve never cooked out of it before… It’s quite the behemoth! The tiny font and the lack of pictures makes it hard to approach, but the sheer number of recipes in here is amazing. I’ve decided that the best way to cook through JoC is to pick an ingredient you want/need to cook with and see what recipes in the book use that ingredient. Chances are, there will be several! That’s exactly what I did here. We had leftover roast pumpkin from our Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie, so I decided to let that be my guiding ingredient for my first JoC foray.

The biggest modification I made to the book recipe is the addition of the chocolate chips. Selim thinks everything is better with chocolate chips, so we had to add some. It turned out well. It’s a perfect use of leftovers and a quick pathway to an easy treat!

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Pumpkin Chip Bread

(Adapted from Joy of Cooking, 1997 edition)
Ingredients: 
  • 1 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 stick (8 tbsp) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 small baking pumpkin (or 1 cup pumpkin puree)
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Place halves facedown on a cookie sheet. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the flesh is tender and skin easily peels back.
  3. Decrease oven heat to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan.
  4. Sift together the first 8 dry ingredients (flour though baking powder).
  5. In a different bowl, whisk together the milk and vanilla.
  6. In a third bowl, cream the butter with the sugars. Now beat in the two eggs. Follow that with 1 cup of pumpkin.
  7. Now add the flour mixture and the milk mixture, alternating each, while beating on low speed.
  8. Once well-combined, fold in the chocolate chips.
  9. Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for ~1 hour, until a toothpick comes out cleanly.