Spiced Vegetable Pilaf with Lemon Yogurt Sauce

It is no secret that I LOVE my neighborhood. Inner Richmond is by far the best neighborhood in San Francisco. I'll debate you if you disagree. I've been planning a whole post, more like love letter, to Inner Richmond, which will come out eventually! However, I will admit that there could be some improvements. I wonder if there is a community board or council I could join.

Issue #1 is the poor access to cheese. This neighborhood is predominately Asian, and Asian people have a precedent of not liking cheese. That's fine. But would it be soooooo terrible for us to get one (just one!) cheese shop?! For the Asian girl that loves cheese?! I just need a place where I can pick up some fresh mozzarella, gouda, a nice parmesan, how about some shredded cheddar?! How is ChoCheeseBoards going to take off without proper access to cheese?!

Issue #2 is that the only Non-Asian grocery store in the Clement St. corridor is Smart and Final, which has a weird assortment of goods and items typically come in bulk. No, I don't need a 5 pound package of ground beef or a gallon tub of cream cheese (debatable). I'm also ignoring that there is a Safeway about a 20 minute walk away... too far. Can we get a Trader Joe's at 9th and Clement, please????!

So, when I decided that I was going to make this pilaf dish for a dinner party on Sunday, I found myself in a pickle. Where is the basmati rice?! I was sure that they would sell it at our go-to Asian store. Nope. I almost bought this bag described as "extra fancy white long grain rice". What does that even mean??? Extra Fancy? What is just plain fancy rice? I recruited Reuben to help me on Mission Basmati. We needed to be in Oakland in 3 hours. We went back to Smart and Final to take another look at their very limited grain aisle. There was a 20lb bag of basmati rice and we decided to just buy it. It's a big bag. I currently don't have a clever storage solution for it so it's just sitting on the floor of our kitchen, saying "I'm going to be here for a while".

We are going to be eating basmati rice for a very long time... eh, it's not the worst thing. It's delicious and technically a lot healthier for you than the jasmine rice that I typically make. I ended up doubling this recipe for the dinner party. 2 cups of rice turns into A LOT of rice here. We were able to make a giant platter of pilaf to safely transport to Oakland and still save some leftovers to have for work lunches. I recently was asked by a friend if I could make more recipes that one could easily make for work lunches. You ask and I will deliver! This pilaf works as a beautiful offering for a potluck or a yummy dish to meal prep on Sunday and enjoy all week. It's easy to throw together, filling, satisfying, and won't leave you battling a serious food coma at your desk.

The colors of the rice, carrots, and cauliflower are just so gorgeous together. If you see some rainbow carrots at your farmer's market, BUY 'EM. The carrots are sweet like candy, tossed with honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a little sumac. It acts as a sweet balance to the spicy earthy flavors of the cauliflower, seasoned with turmeric, garam masala, and cumin. I make this yogurt sauce about once a week, it's so good and works as a creamy refreshing binder to hold the whole dish together. Cooking is about balance. Once you hit salty, sweet, spicy, sour, you got yourself a great plate of food!

If you guys have any requests for what you'd like to see more of on EatChoFood, please let me know in the comments!

Happy almost weekend!


Spiced Vegetable Pilaf with Lemon Yogurt Sauce

serves 4-6

Pilaf:

1 C basmati rice

1/3 C orzo

3 C chicken stock

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1/4 C chopped parsley + more for garnish

 

Vegetables:

1 bunch of carrots (6-9 medium carrots)

1/4 C honey

1 Tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp sumac

1/2 head of cauliflower

2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp cumin

oilive oil

salt and pepper 

 

Lemon Yogurt Sauce:

1/2 C plain greek yogurt

1 tbsp water

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp sumac

Steps:

1. Start by making your rice pilaf. Add chicken stock, turmeric powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper to a pot. Mix to combine and bring to a boil. Add rice and orzo to the stock and lower heat to a simmer. Cover with a lid and allow to simmer for 20 mins. Remove pot from heat and allow to sit covered for another 10 mins. Fluff with a fork, mix in parsley, and set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3. Peel the carrots and cut into 1/2" thick slices at an angle. Toss carrot slices in a medium bowl with a heavy drizzle of olive oil, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, sumac, and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Arrange carrot slices on half of a foil lined baking sheet.

4. Cut the cauliflower into medium sized pieces, about 1/2" thick floret slices. Toss cauliflower in a medium bowl with a heavy drizzle of olive oil, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Arrange cauliflower on the other half of the baking tray.

5. Make sure the vegetables are in a single layer for optimal roasting! Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until tender and getting slightly crispy on the edges.

6. Make the lemon yogurt sauce by mixing greek yogurt, water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and sumac. Adjust thickness by adding more or less water or yogurt.

7. Assembly the pilaf by adding a big scoop of rice to a plate or bowl, top with spiced vegetables, and then drizzle the lemon yogurt sauce over it. You could also make one big platter of this to share!

Honey Ginger Iced Cookies

Hey guys! It's been a minute. For the last two weeks I have been running around like a mad woman. Life tends to work like that for me. I go through weeks of calm and relaxing weekends painting carrots. Then all of a sudden a whole bunch of exciting things happen at the exact same time. Here are some life updates...

I have become the resident party designer at my office recently. Which is awesome! They trust me to execute my weird ideas... like painting a mural and building a donut wall. I built and painted a mini mural to help my office announce the opening of a new Los Angeles Office! It was super cute with big palm leaf graphics and I was able to keep my hand steady to paint in our office font. yay! We had a wonderful party this past Wednesday and transformed a portion of our office into a LA Rooftop party; complete with string lights, palm trees, food inspired by LA neighborhoods,  a super boozy drink called "LA Water", and 80 Bob's Donuts that spelled out "I <3 LA". It was great!

Reuben's best friend, Andy, was visiting from Michigan the last 10 days and we have been eating all of the BEST food. He just left and we miss him already! It was so great to have another food loving friend dine and explore with us. We debated whether a hot dog is a sandwich, critiqued our meals like food network show judges, I watched them drink lots of beer, and developed an idea to start a breakfast restaurant that only serves leftovers like cold pasta and Chinese food. MY DREAM. When friends are visiting on vacation it puts us in vacation mode as well, which is great but I need to go on a juice cleanse now. We took him to all our favorite restaurants (Brother's, Y&Y, Richmond Republic, Sakesan, and Good Luck Dim Sum just to name a few) and I realized that I really need to make a San Francisco eating guide. That's going to be my next project, so stayed tuned!

Oh. and I accepted a new job. AH! I'm super excited and nervous, but mostly excited! I'm feeling so so ready for a new experience! However, it's been really hard telling people that I'm leaving my current job because I've made some really wonderful friends at BAR. I'm having some of my main work ladies over for dinner this week so I'm just going to keep inviting them over for dinner all the time! I'm also going to bake some farewell mini cakes so people will still want to be friends with me after I leave.

Now, I have some blogging, recipe writing, and painting to catch up on! We leave for Ohio in 2 weeks so I'm trying to get as much work done as I can before we are off to the happiest place on Earth! A part of me really loves buzzing around and always keeping busy. I searched online yesterday for cute loose fitting jogger pants and a new blanket to add to my collection, which may be a sign that I'm just about to burn out and need to veg out on our couch for a little bit and watch Naked and Afraid. That's our new trashy TV obsession btw. 21 days without a single dumpling?!! Despite the slight exhaustion, I'm always thankful for the exciting and not so exciting things that happen in life.

You know what else is exciting? HEXAGON COOKIE CUTTERS! I'm super happy about the fact that I accidentally ordered a set of varying size hexagon cookie cutters! I was only planning on getting one... but now I have like 8. I have a background in architecture, so I'm really drawn to bold shapes and the potential of making something graphic with food. I saw these cutters on amazon and I instantly needed them. I've been brainstorming ways to utilize hexagon cookie cutters. "What foods are hexagon shaped???" Honeycombs, ZEBRA CAKES, oyster crackers! "What foods can I make hexagon shaped??" - cookies, biscuits, mini cakes, rice crispy treats, rice cakes! Do you have any ideas?

I knew I wanted to make something with honey to play off the honeycomb shape. And so, these cookies were born! These Honey Ginger Iced Cookies remind me of those iced animal crackers that I would always eye up at the grocery store, but a spicier adult version with less sugar and sprinkles. I might add sprinkles next time. They are soft and chewy, and I feel like they are somewhat good for me due to the ginger-honey combo. I'm just going to keep telling myself that each time I make these. They are dangerously easy to eat, so either prepare to snack away at them all or share with some sweet friends!

 

Honey Ginger Iced Cookies

makes 40 2" cookies

Steps :

  1. Combine butter, sugar, honey, and salt in a large bowl or bowl of a stand-mixer. Beat until light and fluffy, scrape down the sides as needed, 3-5 minutes.

  2. Add whole egg, egg yolk, and vanilla into the creamed mixture and beat until combined.

  3. Combine flour, ginger, and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Slowly incorporate the flour into mixture and mix until just combined.

  4. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. The dough will be very soft. Place in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.

  5. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

  6. Bring your dough out and allow them to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin. Roll out half your dough to 1/4" - 1/8" thickness. Cut out cookies with your cutters. I used 1.5", 2", and 2.25" hexagon cookie cutters. Place cookies on lined baking sheet.

  7. Bake for 8-11 minutes, depending on size, until golden brown. Allow cookies to cool completely on a cooling rack. Repeat steps 6-7 with second half of dough.

  8. Make icing by whisking together powdered sugar and heavy cream. Add a bit more cream if you feel your icing is a little thick.

  9. Once your cookies have cooled completely, you can decorate your cookies by dipping half of each cookie in icing. Shake off any excess icing and then tip iced portion into crush pecans. Place back on rack and allow icing to set.

  10. Enjoy and Share!

Cookie Materials :

1 C unsalted butter - room temperature

1/2 C granulated sugar

1/4 C honey

1/4 tsp salt

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 C all-purpose flour

1.5 tsp ginger powder

1 tsp cinnamon 

Crushed Pecans - optional

 

Icing:

1 C powdered sugar

5 Tbsp heavy Cream