Wednesday, March 25, 2009


When I was sick this past month and I felt very nauseous, my neighborhood coffee place came to my rescue.

Outpost makes their own hummus and it's quite delicious. I ate a few orders of this to try to get myself on the mend and it helped tremendously!

Their hummus is spicy and flavorful and a little more dense than most traditional hummus you buy at the grocery store.

Of course, I decided to try and re-create it. This is definately a step in the right direction and is quite good, but might not be exactly like Outpost's hummus, for that, you should probably go to the real thing!


*this makes enough for a week!

2 cans of Garbanzo/Chickpeas (15 oz)
Juice from 1 Lemon
4 to 6 cloves of Garlic, roughly chopped
A few swirls of good EVOO
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Palmful of Cumin
Palmful of Coriander
Half Palmful of Dried Oregano
Half Palmful of Ancho Chilli Powder
A few dashes of Tabasco's Habanero Hot Sauce

*Water: use this to thin down the hummus, adding just a little bit goes a long way

  • Blend everything in the a food processor, you might have to do 2 batches. You have to help along the process by mixing the mixture around in between chops to make sure it is all even.

EASY SALAD SERIES: Frankies Fennel Salad, Take 2

Frankies is one of my favorite restaurants in New York and after more than a year of going there frequently, I still order their Fennel Salad. I tried to make a recreation of this salad when I first started writing this blog (see post: Fennel....Really?)--but now I have a slightly better version that I take to work with me.
*Note: I would love to include Celery Root into this salad, as it is important to the balance of the original Frankies salad--however, I could not find it at my grocery store this time around and, also, be warned, it can be very tough to take apart--there must be a tool out there to help you cut this vegetable, anyone know of one?
K'S "Can't Eat at Frankies Everyday" Salad
Baby Spinach
Small Palmful of Sunflower Seeds (Roasted & Salted)
Palmful of Grated Pecorino Romano
Shredded Carrots
Thinly, thinly sliced Fennel (a quarter of a bulb = 1 serving)
Thinly, thinly sliced Red Onion (a quarter of a small Red Onion = 1 serving)
Palmful of Fresh Italian Parsley
Dressing: Juice from 1/4 to 1/2 lemon + EVOO (use Frankies own EVOO!)
  • Toss Spinach, Carrots, Fennel and Red Onion together with Lemon Juice and EVOO.
  • Top with Cheese and Sunflower Seeds

Thursday, March 5, 2009

EASY SALAD SERIES: "Balthazar" Salad

On my salad kick this week I had a delightful salad from Balthazar, near my workplace. I paid $10 for it, and I thought "I can make this at home." And I did.


Mix of Baby Lettuces & Spinach
Slices of Fennel
Thinly sliced Radish
About a 1/10 of a Pound of Ricotta Salata (palmful amount)
Palmful of Quickly Cooked Green Beans
Sprinkle of Sea Salt
Sprinkle of Black Pepper

Dressing: Juice from a Quarter of a Lemon & EVOO

  • Cook Green Beans for 2 minutes in salted boiling water, shock them in ice-water to stop cooking and retain color. Set aside.
  • Toss Lettuces, Fennell, Radish with Lemon Juice and EVOO
  • Sprinkle Salt & Pepper
  • Top with Green Beans and crumble the Ricotta Salata on top
  • Top with more EVOO

*note, the original salad had some thinly sliced Beet on top (for sweetness) and a different mix of lettuces--but I chose Spinach and dark baby lettuces for some nutritional value (instead of crisp romaine). There was also about 3 pieces of asparagus, which I would have added if I had more time, instead I added more green beans. There was also Avocado, that I didn't like in the mix (which is strange for me as I love Avocado) I think it dampened the crispness of this winter salad and didn't jive well with the other flavors. The dressing, as well, I improvised, but I think the only difference is that Balthazar uses some sort of truffle oil in their original dressing, so if you have some, do add it.


I loooooove pizza, and who doesn't? I wanted to create a salad that reminded me of pizza, so here it is--and it's really not THAT bad for you, as long as you're not too heavy on the Pepperoni.


Fresh Mozzarella Balls
About 5 slices of Good Pepperoni or Sopressata
Toasted Pine Nuts

Dressing: EVOO and a sprinkle of good Balsalmic

  • All in all pretty simple, just slice the Pepperoni Rounds into little "pizza" slices and cut the Mozzarella Balls into 4 pieces each so that you get an even bite each time. Toast the Pine Nuts for added flavor over a dry high heat, constantly moving them until they start to brown.


Salads are a food paradox because they seem simple and mundane--and are hardly alluring to order in a restaurant (at least for people like me!). But when you eat a really great salad, it always delights and reminds you that this little collection of vegetables, cheeses, fruits and nuts can be heavenly and a great meal in itself.
In this spirit, I tried to make some salads that I found pleasing and easy to make. I made up three different combinations that I think are pretty tasty. The first one was my take on "taco salad"--but I tried to make a bit healthier, without meat, adding a nutritious leaf like spinach, and incorporating the toritlla chip.
Shredded Carrots
Half of an Avocado, Diced
Roasted & Salted Sunflower Seeds
Crumbled Multi-Grain Tortilla Chips
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Dressing: mix 1 tsp ranch dressing & 1 tsp hot pureed salsa (not chunky)
  • Put the Spinach, Carrots and Cheddar Cheese in a bowl, toss with dressing. Then top with diced Avocado, Sunflower Seeds and Crumbled Tortilla Chips.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Yes, risotto is not hard to make. Believe me! In fact, it's pretty methodical and ripe for experimentation, as I found out about two weeks ago when a friend told me about it. Like many, I assumed this was a dish best left to the gourmet restaurant sous-chef, not a handy-dandy all-in-one-meal that I could just whip up in a whimsy--I'm so glad I was wrong.

Since I've started to make risotto, I have experimented with a few different recipes--mushroom and sherry risotto, zucchini & squash risotto, cheese risotto. But the basics are always the same. Essentially, no matter what kind of risotto you want to make, you will always "add on" extras to the basic risotto recipe. Therefore, below, for your convenience, I am outlining how to make the basic risotto. Below this recipe, I will show you how I made "mushroom" and "squash" risotto, basically just adding a couple steps to the standard.


1 to 1.5 cups of Arborio Rice
About 4 cups of Broth (I used Chicken as it complimented all my recipes)
1 small to medium Onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons of Butter (salted)
1 cup of Dry White Wine
(Chopped Mixed Herbs, Optional--such as Parsley, Rosemary, Tarragon, etc.)
**"Piave" Cheese (or Parmesan or another hard, Italian cheese)

**if you can try Piave, I strongly recommend it, it has a distinct and sharper flavor than the Parmesan we are used to using. It looks just like Parmesan and is also an Italian Cheese--just ask your Cheesemonger.

  • Before starting, add your 4 cups of Broth to a small pot on the Stove and heat gently--you don't want it to boil, but you don't want it cold either. Because you will be adding Broth a ladle at a time to the risotto to cook it--you want the Broth to be at room temp or higher so that it doesn't slow down the process.
  • Add Butter and a couple rounds of EVOO to a large skillet and turn on medium/medium-low heat.
  • When heated, add chopped onion, saute until translucent
  • Add Arborio Rice to the skillet, saute the rice for 2 or 3 minutes.
  • Add cup of White Wine, turn heat a little higher so that the alcohol burns off quickly--stir as it evaporates, you want most of it gone.
  • Once wine has almost gone, add your first ladle of broth to the pan and turn down to heat to medium again. Stir, stir, stir. The liquid should be absorbing quickly and if you do not stir the risotto there should be lots of bubbles and sounds coming from the hot surface of the pan--you want there to be activity, essentially you are boiling the broth and rice together to cook--so keep an eye on it at all times, stirring nearly the whole time.
  • Keep adding ladle by ladle, tasting each turn. You want to rice to be "al-dente" or to your liking. Just when you think it's perfect, add one more ladle of broth to make sure it's all cooked throughly.
  • Add parmesan cheese and fold in. Serve warm and refrigerate.

***Do NOT freeze risotto--it will ruin it and become mush.


  • Before you begin with the above recipe do the extra prep work for the mushrooms: chop 1 shallot, 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, about 8 ounces of portabella mushrooms. Set aside. Also chop some mixed herbs and parsley, also set aside. Also reserve 1/3 cup of Sherry.
  • Saute shallots and garlic in EVOO over medium heat for a minute or two. Add chopped mushrooms and sprinkle with sea salt. Allow to saute until the mushrooms have cooked down to nearly half the size. Add Sherry, turn heat high, cook off the alcohol. You want almost all the liquid gone from the pan, just be wary not to burn the mushrooms. Then set aside mushrooms to rest while you prepare your basic risotto.
  • Once the risotto is "al dente"--fold in the mushrooms and add broth for at least 1 broth cycle. Then also add cheese and any herbs--fresh parsley, chopped finely as well as mixed mediterranean herbs, like marjoram, rosemary, tarragon, oregano, etc.


  • Before beginning basic risotto, chop 1 small zucchini and 1 small summer squash. You want to slice first in thin, thin cirlces. Then cut the circles into 4 quardrants. The point here is to cut the squash as thinly as possible, for it will be cooked very little (not sauteed).
  • Once your risotto becomes al dente, add chopped zucchini and squash and broth, and do this for about 2 cycles. In the end, add parsley, herbs, cheese as well as a little lemon zest.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Oh, beef brisket! You are so delicious and amazing! It couldn't be easier!

Braising is: cooking a fibrous cut of meat, over a long period of time, over a low simmering heat, in a covered dish with a small amount liquid. The steam trapped inside your Slow Cooker/ Dutch Oven/ Baking Dish cooks the top of the meat that is not submerged in liquid with steam. Halfway through the cooking process turn the meat over. That's really all there is to it.

Braising is used by cultures all around the globe: Indian Lamb Curry, English Stews, Viennese Sauerbraten, Southern Pulled Pork, Mexican Barbacoa; the combinations of meats and flavors are endless. This method requires the tougher, more fibrous cuts of meat because the process of braising is designed to tenderize these tough cuts and break down all the collagen holding the fibers together, so that eventually, the meat just falls apart and melts in your mouth!

To get started: pick your meat. Some cuts that are popular: Pork Butt, Pork & Beef Shoulder, Beef Brisket, Pork & Beef Cheek, Rib Meat, just to name a few. I chose Beef Brisket because I ate a delicious brisket at a holiday dinner in Rochester and I was hooked! But also through my quick reseach I realized that it is a very popular cut for braising and many chef's top choice.

Braising is popular because it's economical--the tougher cuts of meat are usually the less expensive cuts, especially in comparison to common "tender" cuts like sirloin or filet. Braising works very well with beef, lamb, and pork, bone-in-chicken and tougher fish like skate or mackeral.

The next step is to figure out how MUCH of the meat you can handle. Some people like to keep the cut whole and this works best in a large baking dish, meant to be cooked in the oven. Since I still don't have a working oven (ironic, I know), I had to use either my Dutch Oven or Slow Cooker for this meal. I had to cut down the Brisket in order to fit evenly in the Dutch Oven. In the end, I shredded the meat anyways, so it wasn't a problem.

NOTE: many recipes call for 3 to 4 pounds of meat for Braising. This makes a LOT of meat and you will need a Large Dutch Oven or a Large Slow Cooker or Baking Dish. I have a Smaller 2 Person Le Creuset Dutch Oven and it held 1.5 pounds perfectly. It is still plenty for 2 people with leftovers for another meal.

Another technique linked to braising is Browning, which is just searing the meat at a very high temperature to carmalize the exterior and "lock in flavor" before covering with liquid to braise. Whether this really is necessary is debated, but if you have the time, it certainly doesn't hurt and my dish came out amazingly and I'm sure it had something to do with searing the meat beforehand.

After your meat is browned (all instructions below), you just have to choose your liquid of preference in which to braise your meat. You can literally choose anything--even water if nothing else is available, but the options are wide. The most popular are: wine, stocks, soups (like french onion/soup mix), beer, water or any combination of all of these. It's up to you. I prefer cooking with wine, so that's what I used, with a little chicken stock thrown in for good measure.

Then choose your spices/flavorings. Of course, I added garlic and an onion that I had laying around. I also added some dried spices and some fresh thyme that I just thought would smell delicious with everything else. You can really add whatever you like! Experiment. This recipe was my first attempt and I didn't use a recipe, braising is a very forgiving method, it's ripe for experimentation!

Then, once you have all that settled, all you need is time!


Dutch Oven
1 to 2 pound Beef Brisket, cut into large, even pieces (about 8)
Salt, Pepper & Garlic Powder to season the Brisket Pieces

Dry White Wine (about 1/4 to 1/3 of a bottle)
Chicken, Veg or Beef Broth (optional)

Half a Palmful of Dried Herbs de Provence
1 Onion, cut in half & sliced thickly
4 Garlic Cloves, quartered
8 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme (optional)

  • Allow the Brisket to sit and rest for half an hour before you begin to dress it. Cut the Brisket in even, large pieces--the goal of cutting the Brisket is to make it an easier fit in the bottom of your Dutch Oven. Ideally you will want an even layer in the bottom of your Dutch Oven.
  • Season the Brisket with Sea Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder, massage it into the Brisket.
  • Now time for the Browning/Searing of the meat. Put a tiny amount of EVOO in the Dutch Oven, you want just enough to grease the bottom of the pan--not a visible layer--you do not want to fry the meat. Raise the heat to High.
  • Once the Oven is hot (the EVOO will smoke a bit) add a few pieces of the Brisket, browning in batches. Adding the meat all at once will lower the temperature of the Oven and defeat the purpose of browning.
  • When you add your batches of Brisket (2 to 3 pieces at a time), you will hear a searing sound. This is good. Turn on your exhaust if you have one. Sear each side (not just top and bottom) for 30 seconds, set aside. Repeat until all pieces are seared all around.
  • While the Oven is still hot, add a little wine to deglaze the bottom of your Oven. Scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.Turn off the heat, keep the liquid in the pan--these browned bits add loads of flavor when you cook.
  • Arrange all the meat at the bottom of the Dutch Oven in as even a manner as possible. If some pieces are thicker than others, arrange so that the thicker pieces are towards the center of the pot and the thinner pieces are towards the edge.
  • Fill Oven with Wine and/or Stock until the meat is submerged in liquid half-way. Add Garlic, Onions, Thyme and Dried Herbs de Provence.
  • Turn back on High to a boil, then slowly drop to low, while maintaining a boil. Cover the Dutch Oven with the lid.
  • Cook, covered, on a low simmer for 1 hour. Then remove fresh Thyme Sprigs and flip the meat pieces, so that each part will recieve equal time in the liquid and on top of the liquid. If the liquid has evaporated, feel free to add more. Cook on low for 1 more hour.
  • At this point the meat will be tender, but you will most likely want to cook it longer for about 30 minutes to an hour and the meat will literally fall apart. At this point, you may want to add more liquid as well--because as it breaks down, the meat absorbs the liquid. The onions and garlic will evaporate into the broth/meat. It's fantastic.
  • Turn off heat. Shred/Pull meat apart with a pair of forks, it doesn't take much force at all. The broth will mostly be absorbed by the meat.

Serve with your favorite potato dish, vegetable. Or use on a sandwhich or on a salad.