CHALLAH // braided egg bread recipe
Full disclosure: I took this picture over the summer. After baking this bread with more than a little help from my mom. BUT I totally was responsible for the braiding, so that counts for something, right?

My family isn't huge on long-standing traditions (probably a relic from my mom growing up Catholic and my dad growing up Jewish), but if I had to point to a newly-minted family tradition from my parents, it would definitely be this bread.


This is a bit of a special occasion bread -- I'm pretty sure my parents make it every New Year's, and I made a couple of less-photogenic loaves for Easter. But it's also perfect if you have a bit of time on your hands on a weekend afternoon, because it's so good and the kneading and braiding process is basically free therapy.


BRAIDED CHALLAH

Makes two loaves


INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup warm water
1 package active yeast (this recipe is for regular yeast, see note below if you use quick-rise yeast)
3 eggs
Milk (add to two eggs to make 2 cups total)
2 tbs melted butter
2 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar
6-6 1/2 cups flour


INSTRUCTIONS:


1. Dissolve yeast in water in a large bowl.  

2. Break two eggs into a 2-cup measuring cup and pour in milk to make 2 cups. Beat the mixture together, then add to the yeast mixture. 

3. Add butter, salt, and sugar to mixture and blend.


4. Stir in five cups of flour one cup at the time, each time stirring until smooth and elastic.


5. Sprinkle flour on a board or counter. Place the dough on the board and keep a sprinkle of flour on it as you knead -- it shouldn't be so sticky that half of it ends up on your hands! Knead dough until non-sticky, smooth, and satiny, adding flour as needed.  


6. Put dough in greased bowl, turning to grease fully. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set in warm place. Let the dough rise until almost doubled (about 1 1/2 hours).  


7. Test the dough by inserting two fingers 1/2 inch into dough -- if indentations remain, the dough is ready. Punch dough down and squeeze out bubbles.  


8. Divide the ball of dough into six equal parts and roll each small ball into a strand. Braid three strands together and fold the ends under, pinching to help them stick together. Repeat with the remaining three strands.


9. Place both braided loaves on a greased baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rise until almost doubled (about 45 minutes).


10. Crack an egg into a bowl and beat until mixed. With a brush (or simply a folded paper towel) spread the egg mixture over the top of each loaf of bread -- this will give the loaves their shiny, golden crust, so I like to be thorough and get into the braids' crevasses.


11.  Bake in 375 oven for 25-30 minutes, then serve fresh and hot! The bread will last for another few days (or less depending on how much self control you have), especially if wrapped in tin foil and refrigerated.


FAVORITE TOPPINGS: hummus, aoili, jam, a piece of cheese and slice of tomato, or just straight up eat a hunk of bread plain -- my favorite snack!


NOTE: For quick rise yeast (which seems to work equally well), follow the directions on the yeast packet to modify the recipe. In general, you'll mix the yeast with the dry ingredients and then add in the warmed-up liquid ingredients (add the eggs to at room temperature). You'll then give the dough a shorter first rising time (ten minutes or so) and then continue with the recipe. 

xo Diana
weekend details + sour cream coffee cake
So I have a camera, and I have an online course, and I have a promise to myself to learn how to shoot in manual properly.

And it turns out the hardest part of this promise is actually getting myself to take the camera out of its bag! So, some shots from a sunny photography walk this weekend, followed by a way-too-good cake. Er, delicious breakfast food. Try it.

We found the local public library and drooled over the amazing books (not literally, not to worry). Next weekend's goal: library cards!
It turns out Saturday was the Cesar Chavez parade, and it turns out there are at least three rival vintage low-rider clubs in San Francisco. Debating which one to join.
I adore the murals in the Mission District, and have so much respect for the people who make them. Never ceases to inspire me.
Oh, and it's spring!
This cake is heaven.

It's sweet and dense and moist. And my mom has been making it as a special breakfast treat for years, so that's how you know it's something good.

I'm pretty sure you could bake this up in a flat pan, but putting it in a bundt pan just makes it that much more delicious. :)

SOUR-CREAM COFFEE CAKE
From The Silver Palate Cookbook. Makes 10 servings in a 10 inch bundt pan

INGREDIENTS:

  • 16 tbs (2 sticks) sweet butter
  • 2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups dairy sour cream
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shelled pecans, chopped (you can also substitute walnuts or almonds)
  • 1 tbs ground cinnamon


INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 10 inch bundt pan and lightly dust the inside with flour.
  2. Cream together the butter and 2 cups of the sugar. Add eggs, blending well, then the sour cream and vanilla. (For those of you without a stand-up mixer, or a mixer of any kind, never fear -- I mixed this whole thing up the old-fashioned way.)
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Fold the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture and beat until just blended. Do not overbeat.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix remaining 3/4 cup sugar with pecans and cinnamon.
  6. Pour half of the batter into the bundt pan. Sprinkle with half of the pecan and sugar mixture. Add remaining batter and top with the rest of the pecan mixture.
  7. Set on the middle rack of the over and bake for about 60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm. Or cold. Honestly, it will be amazing no matter what.

    xo Diana
    VEGETARIAN BIBIMBAP // korean veggies + rice bowl
    With all the craziness of moving and life and everything, I recently found myself in a bad-eating rut.

    I was inspired by a fellow Instagrammer @ns0n and his lunchtime series featuring a book/juice pairing. I love how it combines healthy eating with reading, both things I wanted to do more of! I decided to follow suit and do a salad/book pairing of my own.

    I tested it out last week with a simple quinoa-based tabouleh and loved it! I'm trying to make it a habit, continuing with this week's bibimbap: a Korean rice-bowl dish with sautéed, pickled, and raw veggies.


    VEGETARIAN BIBIMBAP

    Adapted from Oh My VeggiesReal Simple Food, Bon Appetit, and The Chicagoist
    Makes 4-5 lunch bowls

    Prepping this lunch was a bit time consuming, but the results were absolutely delicious, and you can customize your bowl however you like! Substitute meat or a fried egg for tofu, add bean sprouts, or try out Oh My Veggies' roasted sweet potatoes.


    INGREDIENTS + INSTRUCTIONS:


    Basic bowl ingredients:

    • 4 cups cooked rice (I always go back to this resource for cooking rice on the stove)
    • Kimchi
    • 2 grated carrots


    Marinated + baked tofu: 

    (The same tofu I make for my vegetarian banh mi sandwiches!)
    • 1 package firm tofu, sliced to desired size
    • 3 tbs soy sauce
    • 2 tbs olive oil
    • 1 tbs rice vinegar
    • 1 tbs agave
    Mix the marinade ingredients together in a shallow pan and let the tofu slices soak for 30 minutes. Remove slices from marinade, place on a greased baking sheet, and bake at 375F for 30 minutes, flipping halfway.


      Garlicky spinach:

      • 2 tbs sesame oil
      • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
      • 2 bags pre-washed baby spinach 
      • 2 tbs soy sauce
      • 1 tsp rice vinegar
      • Salt + pepper to taste
      Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat and sauté the garlic until golden brown. Add spinach and gently stir until the leaves are wilted. Add soy sauce, vinegar, salt, and pepper, and cook for an additional minute.


        Quick refrigerator cucumber pickles:

        • 1/4 c rice vinegar
        • 1 tbs sugar
        • 1/4 tsp salt
        • 1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
        • 1/4 onion, thinly sliced
        Stir brine ingredients together in a bowl until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add cucumber and onion and soak for at least 30 minutes, occasionally stirring. These should last in the fridge for about a week.


        Sauteed shiitake mushrooms:

        • 1/4 c soy sauce
        • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
        • 1 tsp garlic chili sauce
        • 1/2 tbs rice vinegar
        • 1 tbs sesame oil
        • 6 oz shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced with stems discarded
        Stir soy sauce, green onion, garlic chili sauce, and rice vinegar together in a bowl. Heat sesame oil in a saucepan over medium-hot heat and sauté the mushrooms until soft. Add 2 tbs of sauce to the mushrooms and cook for an additional minute.
          Serve it up! Spoon some rice into a bowl and top with your favorite ingredients. Enjoy!

          xo Diana
          MANGO LASSI // easy fruit & yogurt smoothie
          I have a huge sweet tooth, which I try to keep in check with pseudo-sweet treats like fruits and smoothies. One of my go-to smoothies is mango lassi -- actually a yogurt-based drink served in most Indian restaurants.

          I love to have this as a treat between painting sessions -- I'm trying really hard not to have drinks around while I paint, since they tend to end up with paint in them!

          MANGO LASSI, makes about 2 servings
          Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes

          INGREDIENTS

          • 1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt 
          • 1/2 cup milk
          • 1 cup chopped mangoes (I used frozen ones, which give the lassi a nice cool texture)
          • 2 tsp sugar
          • 1/4 tsp cardamom -- optional, but really what gives an "Indian" flavor to this (and to other Indian desserts like kheer)

          INSTRUCTIONS: Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Adjust sugar and cardamom levels to taste, then serve cold!

          Enjoy!

          xo Diana
          PAV BHAJI RECIPE // tasty indian chaat
          Wow this blog post is delayed! S and I made this meal for our New Year's Eve dinner and we were very pleased with ourselves because it combines some of our favorite foods from our childhoods.

          FROM ME: Challah, a fluffy egg bread typically served on Jewish holidays. My parents are great at making it for pretty much any occasion (New Year's Eve, birthdays, Thursdays, etc.). I want to start making it from scratch, but I'm not going to lie, that would be very dangerous since I can basically eat an entire loaf in one sitting!

          FROM S: Pav bhaji, a delicious type of Indian chaat (snack food often served by roadside vendors) that conveniently is usually served with buttered and toasted hamburger buns...which we were pretty confident we could substitute with fluffy challah bread. Probably one of our better ideas yet.



          PAV BHAJI RECIPE:
          Recipe adapted from Manjula's Kitchen (a great resource for Indian recipes, with awesome instructional videos) and Sanjeev Kapoor

          INGREDIENTS:
          • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
          • 1 cup finely chopped cauliflower
          • 3 tbs olive oil
          • 1 yellow onion, chopped
          • 6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled
          • 2 tbs sliced ginger
          • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped then blended (literally -- this should basically be soupy)
          • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
          • 1/2 tsp turmeric
          • 1 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
          • 1 tsp garam masala
          • 1 tbs lemon juice
          • Challah, hamburger buns, or other soft and fluffy bread 
          • Optional toppings: fresh cilantro leaves, sliced raw onion, lemon slices
          INSTRUCTIONS:
          There are probably two main ways of cooking this dish: either using a pressure cooker to more quickly cook the onion and tomato mixture, or sauteeing the dish in a pan until fully cooked. S and I are big advocates of using pressure cookers in Indian cooking, since it saves so much time. 
          1. Boil potatoes and cauliflower in about 1 cup of water -- just enough to cover them. When soft and fully cooked, drain the vegetables, let cool, and mash in a bowl until smooth.
          2. In a food processor, grind the onions into a paste and set aside. Similarly, grind the garlic and ginger together into a paste, keeping them separate from the onions.
          3. Heal olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the onions until clear and soft. Add the garlic and ginger to the onions and continue cooking until softened. Add the tomatoes, red chili powder, and turmeric to the mix and continue sautéing for about 5 more minutes. 
          4. Add the mashed potatoes and cauliflower to the onions and tomatoes and stir well. Add salt and 1/2 cup water as needed to keep the mixture from drying up.
          5. At this point you have two options: put the entire mixture in a pressure cooker, add a bit more water, and let the mixture pressure until the first whistle, or continue sauteeing and adding water as needed until the acidity of the onions and tomatoes is lessened and the mixture tastes more sweet.
          6. Once the vegetables are fully cooked, remove from heat and stir in garam masala and lemon juice.
          7. Serve hot with your bread of choice (traditional is hamburger buns toasted with butter) and top with cilantro, a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkle of onion.
          Let me know if you have any questions about the recipe -- I initially found Indian cooking to be pretty intimidating until I got the hang of it. The good news is that this recipe uses the same onion-tomato-spices mixture that a ton of other Indian recipes use, so you can adapt to make a lot of other dishes!

          Do you have any special recipes from childhood that you always come back to?

          xo Diana
          SPINACH & ARTICHOKE PANINI
          This is yet another one of my "recipes" that began with someone else's genius idea, stripped it down to take only ten minutes, and substituted a mixture of aioli and sriracha for literally whatever other dressing the recipe had specified.

          I don't even know what to say, except that I ate way too many of these sandwiches last week.

          INGREDIENTS:
          2 slices of bread (I used sourdough)
          Aoili
          Sriracha
          Slice of mozzarella cheese
          Handful of baby spinach with the stems pinched off
          Marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped up a bit

          Is it even worth specifying the order in which I tossed these into the sandwich? Basically, I spread aoili on both slices of bread, drizzled aioli on one of them, layered cheese, then spinach, then artichoke on, and shoved the whole thing in the microwave for about 5 minutes. And then I ate it in significantly less than five minutes. :)

          If you're into a sandwich that is a bit more time intensive, but probably a million times more amazing, you should definitely check out Joy the Baker's version, which she says tastes like artichoke dip between two slices of bread. Yum!

          xo Diana
          CHIA SEED PUDDING // vegan + delicious

          I've used chia seeds before as a way to add texture to smoothies, so I was very intrigued to see them used basically as a substitute for pudding.

          Chia seeds are rich in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, but -- let's be honest -- what I like most about them is that, when soaked, they develop a gel-like coating that mimics tapioca. Yum!


          CHIA SEED PUDDING
          Adapted from Sous Style

          INGREDIENTS:
          1/2 cup chia seeds
          1.5 cups almond milk
          1/4 tsp vanilla
          Sugar to taste

          Combine the chia seeds and milk in a bowl and stir for a few minutes to prevent the seeds' gel coating from sticking together. I find that after 20-30 minutes, they are ready to eat -- just add some vanilla and sugar and chow down!

          xo Diana
          HOMEMADE CHAI // three ways
          In India, the word "chai" means "tea" -- as in, literally any type of tea. This was very confusing for me at first, since I love American chai lattes. After a few confusing false starts, I've found three different "chai" variations that I love.


          VANILLA CHAI LATTE // This is a great quencher for Starbucks cravings, since the flavor mimics their chai tea latte -- but better, since you can alter the amount of milk and sugar as desired.

          Recipe adapted from A Pair of Pears

          1 cup milk*
          1 cup almond milk*
          1 chai tea bag
          1/4 tsp vanilla
          Sugar to taste

          Bring milk and almond milk to a boil in a saucepan, then pour into a mug. Let the tea bag soak for 5 or so minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea. Add vanilla and sugar to taste. If you're feeling fancy, use a milk frother to create a real latte-like texture.

          *You can really make this with any combination of milk types, or even add water to dilute the milk more. In addition to changing the taste, note that the more milk you have in the drink, the more it will froth up.

          INDIAN "RAILWAY" CHAI // This type of tea is that is served in India by vendors on train station platforms (and elsewhere), so I've taken to calling it "railway" chai. I'm not sure if anyone in India actually calls it that, but it's very common and incredibly easy to make.

          Recipe from my mother-in-law, Sudha!

          1 cup water*
          1 cup milk*
          2-3 black tea bags (I use Tetley)
          Sugar to taste

          Bring water and milk to a boil, while dangling the tea bags into the mixture. When the tea is as dark as you want, pour the mixture into a mug and sweeten as desired.

          *As with the vanilla chai latte, you can modify the milk:water ratio as desired -- I usually do either a 1:1 or 2:1 mixture.

          MASALA CHAI // This tea is both spicy and sweet, making it perfect for snack time with samosas. :)

          Adapted from A Cup of Jo and Journey Kitchen

          2 cups water
          1 cinnamon stick
          2 cardamom pods, cracked
          2 whole cloves
          5 whole black peppers
          1/2 tsp chopped ginger
          1 whole star anise
          2 tbs loose leaf black tea (I used Darjeeling)
          2 cups milk
          Sugar to taste (I used 1 tbs)

          Bring water, spices, and tea to a boil in a saucepan. Add milk and sugar and bring to a boil again. This makes the tea dark enough for me, but you can definitely boil it a bit longer if you prefer. Remove the tea from the heat, strain, and enjoy!

          xo Diana

          BUTTERNUT SQUASH, QUINOA, AND CRANBERRY SALAD


          I hope everyone had a great weekend! I've been feeling fairly unhealthy lately, and going on a hike this weekend galvanized me to eat better this week. I had gathered some salad recipes I wanted to try, and I decided to go for broke and combine all of them together. :)


          BUTTERNUT SQUASH, QUINOA, AND CRANBERRY SALAD, makes about 4 servings
          Adapted from: The Kitchn, Mountain Mama Cooks, and Gluten Free Goddess

          INGREDIENTS:

          • 1 cup dry quinoa, will make 3 cups cooked quinoa
          • 2 cups water
          • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small pieces
          • 1 15oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
          • Olive oil
          • Salt & pepper
          • Spinach
          • Goat cheese, crumbled
          • Dried cranberries
          • Sliced almonds
          • Dressing of choice (I really like Stonewall Kitchen's Balsamic Fig Dressing)

          FOR THE QUINOA:

          1. Rinse uncooked quinoa well to remove the bitter outer coating, then drain.
          2. Combine quinoa and water in a large saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Lower the heat and cook covered for 15 minutes, then let cool for 5 minutes.
          3. Fluff and add to the salad.
          Update: Some excellent instructions on cooking quinoa in a pressure cooker from Vegan Coach.

            FOR THE SQUASH & CHICKPEAS:
            1. Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
            2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, then toss butternut squash, garbanzo beans, olive oil, salt, and pepper on the sheet.
            3. Roast in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until the largest chunks of squash are soft and the garbanzo beans are crispy.
            FOR THE SALAD: Layer spinach, quinoa, squash, and chickpeas into salad bowls, then top with goat cheese, cranberries, almonds, and dressing. Enjoy!

            xo Diana
            KHEER // Indian rice pudding

            I made this sweet treat a while ago, but never got around to posting it. This month is flying by!

            Kheer is one of my favorite Indian desserts, and turns out to be very straightforward to make. Although I have to admit, it works best if you are willing to hang out by the saucepan for 30 minutes or so to stir -- this took me one tv episode to make. :)


            KHEER, makes about four servings, adapted from Chaos in the Kitchen


            INGREDIENTS:

            • 4 cups whole milk
            • 1/2 cup basmati rice
            • 1/2 tbsp ground cardamom
            • 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
            • Handful of golden raisins or chopped pistachios for toppings

            DIRECTIONS:

            1. Combine rice and milk in a large saucepan and heat on medium low for about 30 minutes, stirring regularly to keep the bottom of the mixture from burning, until kheer reaches the desired consistency.
            2. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in the cardamom and condensed milk
            3. Serve and top with golden raisins or pistachios -- kheer tastes great either served warm or cold. Enjoy!

            xo Diana
            GREEN SMOOTHIE RECIPE with mango, apple, and chia seeds

            I've always avoided green smoothies and assumed they would just taste like...green. Spinach. Blech. But a friend recently introduced me to them (thanks Chi!) and now I'm completely obsessed. The main key seems to be balancing out the greens with some sweet fruit (or fruits!) and adding some extra liquid to make sure it blends. I've been using a mixture of frozen and fresh fruit, which means there's no need to add ice to the mixture. --> Read more for the recipe!



            INGREDIENTS
            1 cup frozen chopped spinach
            1 cup frozen mango chunks
            1 cup plain almond milk
            1 green apple, cut into chunks
            1 tsp dried chia seeds, presoaked in 4 tsp water until gel-like (about 20 minutes)

            DIRECTIONS
            Add the fruit, spinach, and almond milk to a blender and mix until it becomes a thick liquid. Pour in the chia seed mixture and mix again. Enjoy!

            Do you have any favorite fruit/greens combos?

            xo Diana
            VEGETARIAN BANH MI SANDWICH
            I had completely forgotten my love for Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, so I was delighted when I rediscovered how great they are in Austin, at the lovely Elizabeth Street Cafe. When I got back from our trip, I was determined to make it myself. --> Read more.


            VEGETARIAN BANH MI, makes about 4 servings, adapted from The Fresh Direction and White on Rice Couple

            INGREDIENTS:

            Marinated tofu:
            • 1 package firm tofu, sliced to desired size
            • 3 tbs soy sauce
            • 2 tbs olive oil
            • 1 tbs rice vinegar
            • 1 tbs agave 
            Simple coleslaw:
            • 1 cup shredded carrot
            • 1 cup shredded green cabbage
            • 1 cup rice vinegar
            • 1 cup water
            • 2 tsp agave
            Sandwich:
            • Baguette, sliced sub-style
            • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
            • 1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
            • Aioli
            • Sriracha
            • Lime wedges
            DIRECTIONS
            1. Mix the tofu marinade ingredients and coat the tofu slices with the mixture, letting them sit for half an hour.
            2. Combine the coleslaw ingredients and let the mixture sit in the fridge for half an hour.
            3. Remove the tofu from the marinade and place the slices in a baking dish. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes, flipping halfway.
            4. Spread aoili and sriracha on the baguette, then drizzle the tofu marinade over the bread.
            5. Add desired toppings and enjoy!
            What are your favorite banh mi toppings? I'd love to try some more combinations!

            xo Diana
            INDIAN COLD COFFEE RECIPE


            This past weekend was unexpectedly hot for the Bay Area and we took advantage of it by making this delicious treat. I'm not much of a coffee person, but I had this drink in India and loved it -- it's sweet, milky, and turns out something like an iced mocha.

            INDIAN COLD COFFEE, serves 2 (recipe adapted from Manjula's recipe)

            INGREDIENTS:
            2 cups milk
            2 cups ice cubes
            3 tbs sugar
            2 tbs instant coffee

            DIRECTIONS: Mix all ingredients in blender until smooth, then serve cold. Sprinkle some instant coffee on top and enjoy!

            xo Diana
            SRIRACHA AIOLI TILAPIA TACOS

            I think these tacos were the first dinner S and I have ever made where, after eating them, we were restaurant-level sated: the complete, lean back in your chair, time for a nap, no need to go out for dessert sated. They were just too good.

            The recipe is mildly adapted from Love & Lemon's tequila lime fish tacos...and by mildly, I mean we didn't have tequila and forgot to pick up the garlic. Oh, and we substituted the ridiculously delicious garlic aioli in for plain mayonnaise. Which, I firmly believe is a swap that should always be made.
            GOAT CHEESE, BEET, & ARUGULA SANDWICH
            This is basically an epic grilled cheese sandwich for beet lovers...I know there are others of us out there! I essentially used this recipe, but streamlined in my usual stripped-down-cooking fashion.

            INGREDIENTS: exactly what you'd expect...
               Sandwich roll
               Goat cheese
               Pre-cooked beets, sliced
               Arugula

            DIRECTIONS: I simply spread goat cheese on both slices of bread to help the sandwich stick together and layered on beet slices and arugula. I cooked it in a panini maker, but a pan would also work. Enjoy!

            xo Diana