2 ingredient magical mango shake

My parents have a magical mango tree in their back yard. Just one.
Its fruit is the best I’ve ever tasted; it’s velvety, rich – almost like they put cream in it. It’s soft and tangy, just right – and fills the air with a sweet fragrance that smells almost like perfume. To me, it smells like home – and like the end of summer.

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The Magical Fruit
They got it from a special tree lab decades ago, as a gift. The lab said there are only 3 trees like it in the whole country. It was created by combining two other mango tree kinds, which yielded bigger-than-average fruits with less-than-average fibers.

When it was young, the yield was low and every fruit was treated like a sacred treasure; we would carefully listen for the thud of fallen fruit outside, and then divide it evenly between everyone – my parents and two siblings. After a few years with a very small yield, we watered it more often – and suddenly it began to grow faster and faster. Now, all grown up, it yields about 500 (!!) mangos per season – but we still wait in anticipation for those first thuds and divide the first fruits between us all, plus a few more family members 🙂

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Mango OD!!
We are right in the middle of the season, with a couple hundreds behind us. Now, as much as we like mangos, there is only so much we can eat ‘as is’! So even though we give away lots, we still have a full, very fragrant fridge.. So we need to get creative!

One of my favorite things to do is a simple Mango shake, that satisfies thirst in the dog days of August – and still stays true to the wonderful aroma and natural sweetness of the mangos. We take the ripe mangos and cut them to pieces, then freeze them in batches – 2 mangos per bag, then use it straight from the freezer. This way you don’t even need ice cubes!

More mango recipes to come 🙂

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Mango Shake
Serves 4

What you’ll need:
2 mangos, peeled cut and frozen, OR 2 mangos, peeled and cut + 1 cup ice cubes
1 cup almond milk/ regular milk

For show:
2 teaspoon fine brown sugar
pinch cayenne

Get mixin’:

  1. in a food processor, combine frozen mango (or mango + ice cubes) and milk. Process until smooth and divide between 4 tall glasses.
  2. In a small bowl, mix cayenne and brown sugar, then sprinkle mixture on top of the drink.
  3. Close your eyes and imagine you’re on a deserted island! 🙂

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Easy Pasta with Sardines and Parsley for Hot Summer Nights

July in NYC can be brutal; Hot and steamy, with 90% humidity that will make you wish it would rain instead (and it probably would!).
Summer is one of those seasons where all you want to eat is light, fresh meals that will cool you down and help you brave through the high temps.
I’m not a huge meat consumer, so this actually works great for me. The abundance of fresh ingredients Summer brings us is always fun to play with to create flavorful dishes.

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One of my best light dinner go-to choices is pasta with sardines, parsley, chili and breadcrumbs. It has tons of versions, but what’s unique about my version is that you (wait for it–) USE the oil the sardines are marinated in! it’s packed with flavor, and using it will make you feel the sea flavor in each and every bite.

The beauty of this dish is that the most important ingredients are pantry-based, so it’s one of those rare dishes where you don’t have to plan ahead (too much). You just gracefully pull it out of the cabinet and match whatever herbs you have in your fridge (parsley pairs best, but any other herb can work!). This is also great for entertaining because it’s so simple to make, and very pretty to serve along with a nice, cool glass of dry white wine 🙂
The recommended pasta for this recipe is the long kinds, which are usually paired with lighter sauces.

Go for it!

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Easy, flavorful Pasta with Sardines, parsley, chili and breadcrumbs
Serves 4 (or 2 with leftovers for the next day!!)

From the Pantry:
1 package spaghetti pasta, bucatini or linguine
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cans of sardines in olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashes with the back of a knife
¼ teaspoon chili flakes (or more if you’re up for it!)
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs or fresh chunky breadcrumbs
Leafs from 1 big bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

For Show:
Freshly grated Parmesan

Get Mixin’:

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions until al-dente (don’t forget to salt the water!). Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons for the cooking liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil. Open the sardine cans, remove sardines to a plate and drain the oil into the pan. Add garlic and cook until it starts to be fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add chili flakes and breadcrumbs, and cook until breadcrumbs begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Add sardines and using a wooden spoon, break them into large chunks.
  3. Add the cooked pasta into the skillet. Stir in parsley and reserved pasta cooking liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

 

Suggested variations:

  • Replace parsley with cilantro, sage, tarragon or even mint
  • Use 1 can of anchovies instead of 2 cans of sardines
  • Add ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes for acidity
  • Add ¼ tsp of smashed coriander seeds along with the chili for a more earthy flavor.

 

 

 

 

EXTRA 24 HOURS and a Sicilian Fennel Salad Recipe

What would you do if you had an extra 24 hours in your life?

That’s what leap day is all about. An extra day. Think about it this way: your birthday this year would be a day late. How weird is that?

QUALITY TIME
For most of us it’s just another workday. I was on set today shooting some yummy dishes for Easter, for instance. I didn’t even think about the date… but then someone phrased it as an extra 24 hours, and I got to thinking – what would I do?
So many DIYs I was planning on! So many recipes I wanted to try! But to tell you the truth, I would probably leave all these undone and just spend that time with my 4-months adorable baby girl.. People told me my priorities would change but I never believed them (baby over cake? Come on!!) – until I had my own, that is… 🙂

JUST A THOUGHT
Admit that you wondered, at least once today, when people who were born on this special date celebrate their birthday. Right?? 🙂

CELEBRATE WINTER
Although winter is a time where I usually make soups and crave cooked meals, it’s nice to take a break and use those wintery vegetables to make a nice, crunchy salad that’s light but still satisfying.

This salad originates in Italy, where fennel and citrus are at their prime during winter. The mint gives it a beautiful freshness and the olives some earthy flavor. Careful not o put too many though, as their flavor tends to overpower others!

 

Sicilian Fennel Salad
Yield: 4 servings

From the pantry:
2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
2 oranges
about ¼ cup green olives, pitted and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

 

for the sauce:
1/3 cup olive oil
salt, pepper
a few dashes Tabasco sauce

*Optional: some Pecorino shavings

GET MIXIN’:

  1. Cut fennel into quarters, then thinly slice lengthwise.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sliced fennel, shallot and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. set aside to allow the fennel to soften, about 10 minutes.
  3. Cut the orange into wedges – do it over a bowl to catch the juices, and squeeze in whatever juices are left from the pulp. Add the juice to the fennel bowl.
  4. Stir in all other ingredients gently, taste and adjust seasoning.
  5. Add some Pecorino shavings, num num!!
  6. There you have it, a fresh-crunchy salad to beat the winter blues 🙂

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1-INGREDIENT ELEGANT RECIPE HACK!  

 

Green and red and holiday cheer – there’s no doubt Christmas is my favorite time of the year here at NYC. The decorated storefronts, the tree-lighting events, the ice skating – and the shower of emails offering their version of a holiday recipe.

The Holidays are every foodie’s dream – so many meals to plan for, and so many options to pick from! I’m usually saving tons of recipes along the year and putting it under a “must try” file. This is such a fun process, but sometimes you find yourself with too many recipes and not enough opportunities to make them all. Happens to me all the time!

THE HACK WITH THAT
So continuing my last post about short cuts and hacks, I’d like to give you a recipe that requires only one ingredient (ONE!), and can be very versatile (just the way I like them…) – Baked Brie. It can be served alongside crackers and fruits as an afternoon snack, as a side dish for a light dinner or brunch. The additions can be anything you like, and will determine the character of the dish.

READER’S CHOICE
So here’s how you make it your own. When baked, the cheese gets super gooey on the inside but the exterior will keep its shape and structure. It all depends on how you like it, so there’s actually no specific baking time. The rule is, the longer you bake it, the gooier it will get (not to mention runny!). It can range between 5-20 minutes in a pre-heated oven, depending on the size of the cheese.

INSIGHTS
Use the kind of cheese you would usually enjoy at room temp. There are two rules to remember: first, because this is a sole ingredient recipe, it is all about quality. Second, cheese gets naturally runny the more ripe it is. When it’s only the two of us, I like to use Trader Joe’s goat milk cheese, which is just right. If it’s served as a snack alongside wine and some fruit it can serve up to 4 people. For a party of more than 4 peeps, I’d get a larger chunk of about 8oz.

This is so good.

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FREESTYLE BAKED BRIE
Serves 4. For a larger crowd, use a larger cheese wheel!

 

FROM THE PANTRY:
1 4.4oz Trader Joe’s Goat Milk Brie

 

FOR SHOW:
Sliced fruit of choice (pears, apples, figs or grapes will be a nice match!)
Baguette slices
Anything that can be dipped!
Optional:    Roasted nuts such as cashew, almonds etc
1 tsp honey

GET MIXIN’:

  1. Preheat oven to 350f.
  2. Take cheese out of original wrap and put on a parchment-lined baking tray.
  3. Bake for 6-10* minutes: 6 for a not-very-runny interior and 15 for a complete meltdown!
  4. Take tray out of the oven and allow to cool slightly, about 3 minutes.
  5. Remove cheese from tray and onto a serving plate.
  6. Optional: Top with nuts and a drizzle of honey.
  7. Using a knife, cut the cheese-wheel. Note that the runny interior will flow out of the cheese, so choose a plate that can handle it! (hint – a cutting board would be an unfortunate choice, Ask my rug.)
  8. Serve and enjoy all the free time for a more complicated holiday project 🙂

* Note: for bigger cheese wheels – add 1 extra minute for every additional oz (so if you get an 8oz cheese, for instance, you’d bake 10 minutes and up to 15 minutes. Yes, I’m rounding it up guys. The original recipe calls for 4.4oz cheese but no one would measure 0.4 minutes..!).

Be Ritual- Emily Schultz
recipe shots
Be Ritual- Emily Schultz
Um nom nom

THE ONE DISH YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS HOLIDAY DINNER

Every holiday season I have an urge to reinvent my cooking. Did I say reinvent? I meant SIMPLIFY.

The whole Thanksgiving dinner hu-ha is much too much for me. Don’t get me wrong; in the most part, I’m excited for the days and days of grocery shopping and cooking – but sometimes, I feel like having a nice dish that doesn’t require too much effort and that would still taste amazing. Besides, sometimes – hours before dinner, when I’m up to my ears in cooking – I find myself thinking: maybe I over did it, next year I’d rather sit down at the dinner table refreshed and responsive rather than exhausted and worn out from all the fun cooking 🙂

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HOLIDAY HACKS
I’m a big believer in short cuts, as long as they don’t take away flavor. Over the years, I pulled together a few tricks to have up my sleeve whenever I want something that is quick to make and super elegant, enough to fool everyone around the table.

HUFF AND PUFF AND BLOW THIS HOLIDAY AWAY!

One of those dishes that always work is my puff pastry colorful strips.
The basic trick is to cut ready-made puff pastry to strips, and dress it with different vegetables in different colors, creating a festive look along with distinctly different flavors on each strip.

It’s almost like salad on puff pastry!

Look for frozen puff pastry next time you’re grocery shopping and give it a try. It’s also perfect for a fancy weekday dinner, to be served with a simple radish and Parmesan salad.

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50 SHADES OF PUFF

You can go soooo many ways with this.
The basis is the same for all strips: defrost 1 package of puff pastry, have an egg wash ready (1 yolk scrambled with 1 teaspoon of water), and set your oven to 350.
Once you finish arranging the vegetables and sprinkling the cheese, apply a little egg wash all around the sides of the pastry.
Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the pastry is slightly golden on the sides.

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These are my favorite combinations:

Yellow squash and Asiago cheese with thyme
Yellow squash, cut to 1/8’’ rounds
2 tablespoons Asiago cheese, crumbled
2 sprigs thyme

Cherry tomato with fresh goat cheese and rosemary
½ box cherry tomatoes, halved
1 package soft goat cheese (like Chevre), cut to ¼’’ rounds
1 sprig rosemary, chopped

Pears with blue cheese and almonds
1 pear, sliced to ¼’’ rounds,
2 tablespoons blue cheese, crumbled
2 sprigs thyme

This one is a little more complicated, but is worth the effort!
Asparagus, brown butter and balsamic reduction
½ bunch asparagus
¼ cup 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoons of sugar
3 tablespoons butter

*to make the brown butter: in a small saucepan over medium heat, put the butter and allow to melt. Take off heat when it becomes slightly golden and smells nutty. Allow to cool slightly before drizzling over asparagus.

*to make the reduction, combine vinegar with sugar in a small saucepan and allow to reduce by half.

Arrange asparagus and drizzle with balsamic reduction and brown butter. Season with sea salt.

 

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Back to Basics: 2-ingredient homemade cheese (Labneh)

One of the things I love most is taking on a DIY project. Pickling, home made butter, jams… and home made Labneh.

SO CHEESY
Labneh is a tart-flavored soft cheese, made out of plain yogurt. Its richness and smooth texture makes it a perfect addition to salads and grains, as a lighter alternative to sour cream in soups (or anything, really) and even by itself on a slice of sourdough bread with some nice olives.

SECRET RECIPE?
My mom’s recipe for Labneh does not ‘run in the family’ – it’s not like a centaury old tradition. I don’t know where she picked it up but it’s been an honorable member of her repertoire ever since. She used to make it every Saturday morning, and we’d all wait for brunch – where she’d serve it alongside fresh vegetables, baguettes and olive oil – and just like that, a whole batch would be gone within hours.
‘Young’ as this recipe may be, it’s sooooo good that had you tasted it, you’d feel like you are in on a well-kept secret.

KEEP IT SIMPLE
The most amazing thing about this recipe is that it calls for 2 ingredients only: Yogurt and Salt.
Basically, it’s drained yogurt.
…And to think you get to call it ‘homemade cheese’.

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INGREDIENTS MATTER!
Because the recipe is so simple, ingredients DO make a difference. You can use almost any kind of plain yogurt – but it would work best with whole milk yogurt: the full fat will contribute to the thick and firm texture, and of course the flavor will be richer. I like to choose a tangy-flavored yogurt to begin with, because the flavor will enhance when the yogurt is drained: just think of it as a concentrate – every flavor is more pronounced, so you want it to be great to begin with!

I’ve tried it with Trader Joe’s plain Greek Yogurt and also with their Organic Goat yogurt –I have no doubt that the Plain Greek worked out better.

If you want a texture that is a little more runny (but still spreadable), you’ll be satisfied with the Goat yogurt, or any low-fat yogurt; but if you’re looking for a firmer – more traditional – texture, go with a whole milk version.

Another plus for the full-fat version is that the texture is firm enough for you to be able to ‘play’ with it afterwards – think about the Tapas options! – you can roll the labneh into small balls, put it in a jar and cover with olive oil, and even add some dry chili pepper to make it a bit spicy. When refrigerated this way, it will keep for nearly 2 weeks!!

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recipe shots

HOMEMADE LABNEH CHEESE
Makes about 1 cup

 From the Pantry:
1 lb (16 oz) of your favorite regular yogurt*
1 tsp salt
Cheesecloth or clean swaddle cloth (if using cheese cloth, fold it twice to have a thicker fabric)

*Whole-mlik yogurt would work best

Get Mixin’:

  1. mix both ingredients until smooth.
  2. Pour into cheesecloth, and tie each opposite end of the cloth; hang the bundle in a place where it won’t bother you too much (I usually hang it in the shower on the lower faucet.. after we’re done with it for the day of course…:) )
  3. Let drain for 12 hours.
  4. Scoop the Labneh out and place in a sealed container; it will last for about 5 days. You can also roll the cheese into small balls and submerge in olive oil – which will make a beautiful jar and would keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge.
  5. Serve with olives, bread and a drizzle of olive oil.

MAKE AN IMPRESSION WITH (so easy) FANCY BANANA BLONDIES

FALL RUSH AND EXCITING NEWS
Oh I’m so late in posting these (promised I will in my previous post) – September was a busy month! Lots of projects for the holidays and another exciting project of my own – a cookbook! It’s a crazy idea that came by me and a super-talented photographer I met at my former workplace, a food-startup which unfortunately shut down. We said we should meet and take some pictures to benefit both our portfolios, and then she suggested we’d go the whole nine yards and make it into a cookbook. So I thought, why not! If anything, it would be a very interesting process..

The featured recipes will be my go-to’s which are very simple but gorgeous looking, and could be done in any kitchen (the most complicated tool used is a mini – food processor). Promise to post some of the recipes that will be included in the project!

TWO WORDS ABOUT COCONUT OIL
I like experimenting with my recipes, because sometimes a small change in an ingredient can make or brake a recipe. I’ve tried for a while to play with “healthier” ingredients – coconut oil instead of butter, brown sugar instead of white and whole wheat flour to replace AP. I have to say that coconut oil does a great job replacing butter in quick breads and cakes, but less so in cookies – it liquifies so quickly that the dough appears to be too liquidy, which makes you want to add flour, just so it’s not soooo sticky – resulting in a denser, harder cookie.  I do have it on my to-experiment list, so I promise I’ll get the perfect dough along with tips to you.

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AND WITHOUT FURTHER A DUE

HEALTHY(IER) BANANA BLONDIES *and a way to make it super fancy
13×9.5” pan size

From the Pantry:
½ cup (3 oz) coconut oil, melted
1 ½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 TBS vanilla extract
4 bananas
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup AP flour
½ cup chocolate chips

Get Mixin’:

  1. Turn on oven to 350f.
  2. Mix coconut oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla and bananas.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix salt, baking powder and flours.
  4. Pour the dry mix into the wet mixture, and mix using a wooden spoon – only until it‘s combined. Add the chocolate chips.
  5. Pad a baking pan with parchment paper, and pour the mixture over it.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is dry and the center is set. Cool completely before cutting.

**** For a real fancy and decadent dessert:

IMG_8556Make banana pudding and whip up some whipped cream.
Serve the blondies with a generous spoonful of the pudding and a dollop of the whipped cream!


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