Avocado Tool

There are way too many kitchen tools out there, some of which you never use. But, sometimes you do find some that are great.  Got this avocado one in my stocking a couple years back that I love. There are 3 sets of ‘teeth’ to help with cutting — long, a bit wide on the bottom, then small at the top.

You can use the small one to puncture the skin and start cutting the avocado in half. Then you can use the long side to continue the cutting process.

I will then usually slice the avocado crossways (both ways to make cubes) while it’s in the skin. I’ll make this happen with both the small end with the 3 teeth, then go onto the long side (I seriously just have fun with this thing — sometimes I’ll use the wide bottom). I’ll chop with the wide bottom if I don’t want a clean cut.

Then you can use the wide bottom to scoop the avocado/good stuff from the skin to start making guac. Or, to remove it for whatever other purpose you have for the avocado.

The tool then works well to mix the avocado if you’re making guac — as a spoon or masher-like thing.


(yes, the teeth are facing away from what I was cutting, but it was all for photographic effects)


Have you ever gone to a Lebanese restaurant for dinner and they bring you the great pita bread and olive oil to munch on?  But that olive oil also has something extra in it?  When at Lebanese Taverna a couple weeks ago I finally asked what that stuff is.  That magical ingredient is Za’atar.  The waiter told me it’s easy to find at specialty grocery stores.  So I stopped by Rodman’s in DC and found a huge (of course) bag of it.  I am in heaven.  I have put it in olive oil like in restaurants, sprinkled it in and on top of hummus and also used it as ‘just’ a spice on meats and salads.  Can we say addiction?







Salt Cake Red Snapper…oh my!

I have been on a mission lately to make a salt cake fish and finally got it done.  I did some research and various recipes came up with different takes on the concept.  Type of fish varied, what to stuff the fish with, how to make the salt cake, cooking temp & time.  So, between the research and the guy at the fish shop, I went at it.  I opted for a nice red snapper and for 2 people the fish shop suggested about 2 lb. fish (jumping ahead, there was a good amount left).


For stuffing it, I opted for peppercorns, bay leaves and grapefruit.


Next, the caking!  For this one, I took a recipe suggestion and put salt (only) on the baking sheet, then the fish on top of that, then caked the fish in salt.


Threw it in the oven at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes (roughly 9 minutes/pound per some recipes).  When it was done…nicely browned salt around the edges.


Then, break it apart and enjoy!


This was delicious.  So easy to make, so moist, great flavors, highly recommend it!


“It just doesn’t taste the same.”

There are those things or that dish that can be so easy/basic/simple to make that just don’t taste the same unless a specific person makes them.  From spaghetti & meatballs to apple pie to chocolate chip cookies.  Many times those thoughts comes from people who don’t cook, but it can come for those of us who love the kitchen.

My favorite dish to pin this thought to is my friend’s ceviche.  It’s like a comfort food to me (that food/dish in general).  She’s from Costa Rica and they/she just have/has magical ceviche hands, or something to that effect.  All that’s in the dish is white fish, onion, red bell pepper, cilantro, lime juice…and patience.  For the juice, she hand squeezes every…single…lime.  And, her ceviche must sit overnight (some recipes vary).

I make ceviche every so often and it never, ever, ever tastes the same, just because it’s not HER ceviche.  I’m likely missing the patience part.  I have been enjoying this the past few meals and just keep smiling.  Muchisimas gracias amiga!

Misc 009

Eggplant & Porcini ‘Meatballs’

I love trying new recipes and not long ago I made one that made me remember that I:

-do love cooking

-appreciate that I love cooking

-understand why some people detest cooking

-need to remember to always read the entire recipe before making it for the first time

-will always always always love the kitchen

The recipe was for Eggplant and Porcini ‘meatballs’.  Took awhile to track down dried porcini from stores having them out of stock, to others not carrying them to being in sticker shock.

I started making this at 9am and finally finished around 4pm (no, it was not continuous, and I did make a double batch).  I was lucky to be using and AMAZING kitchen while doing this.

Some of the basic overviews:

-Roasting the eggplant for about an hour — end result below

IMG_1609-Dried Porcini



-Soak ’em for half an hour.




-You eventually get to chop them, and some onions.




-You sautee those onions with some garlic…ahh, the kitchen smells so good.


-Throw some canned tomatoes in the blender to make them nice and smooth.



-Add those tomatoes to the onions and garlic.


-Throw in some parsley.IMG_1608

-This simmers for awhile.  While this is happening you can go back to the eggplant which has had a lot happen to it.


-Shape into ‘meatballs’.


-Whip out the pan to cook them.


-And in the end, you add them to the tomato sauce for a final product…


These were good.  I think I’m not saying amazing because they took more effort than I was expecting but everybody whowas had them loved them so that’s all I needed to hear.





Use What You Have

It’s amazing what you can find in the kitchen, between both the cupboards and what you recently bought at the store, that can make a great meal.  I got creative tonight and whipped up a tasty salad that required nothing but ‘shopping’ in my own cupboards and fridge.  It took less than 10 minutes but has and will provide(d) hours of happiness, from a full stomach…to multiple meals, aka leftovers.


-(Trader Joe’s) couscous
-(Trader Joe’s) grape tomatoes
-(Trader Joe’s) frozen artichoke hearts
-(Costco) hearts of palm
-Leftover chicken breasts
Tessemae‘s Lemonette


-Cook couscous per directions — boil water, put in couscous, let sit 5 minutes.
-While that’s happening, defrost artichoke hearts, cut hearts of palm, peel and cut grapefruit.  The chicken I had was already sliced from last night.
-When couscous is done, place in large bowl, top with all other (solid) ingredients.  Toss with salad dressing, season to taste.  Eat.

Rough, right?  Just think about all the additions/subtractions/changes you could make to this, too, to fit your tastes.

-add nuts
-add beans (garbanzo (chick peas), black, kidney)
-no meat
-seafood (I’m out of chicken — only had a couple pieces left so salmon or tuna’s going in there tomorrow)
-dried fruit
-different dressing
-more seasoning
-base of quinoa vs. couscous

What’s the most important thing?  You can make SO MUCH out of what is in your kitchen so you don’t have to go out night after night.  What’s the worse case scenario?  You experiment, it’s not great.  You know everything that went in there and you just keep trying.  Cook on my friends, cook on.


From blogs to lactose intolerance

After some suggestions from friends, I decided to finally start a blog for Mel’s Mosaic.  It won’t be overly frequent, but it will go from deep cooking thoughts to new recipes I find that I’d like to share.  What prompted to me finally put this together tonight?  Lactose intolerance, or the best thing I’ve heard “Lactards” — I will only accept that name since I am one.  I was making Mocha Rum Balls and Orange Cream cookies tonight and could not have a single bite.  I was worse than Movay, the Food Lab, drooling (not in the bowl of dough), just wishing I could have a bite.

Bake on…