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.

Monday, September 29, 2008


I am on a soup kick with the Fall Season. Mushrooms seem perfectly Fall-like--moist, earthy, damp and secretive almost.

I decided to try making Mushroom soup, the recipe is my own and it turned out wonderfully--very subtle (as is hard for me to attain as I have a penchant to spice up everything) and soothing.

Obviously, you have to like mushrooms for this one. My Domestic Taste-Tester is not a fan, so he didn't like the soup--not much you can do there!


About 1.5 lbs of assorted mushrooms: I used Crimini, Portabello & Shiitake, remove stalks. Cut into even pieces.
3.5 cups of Chicken Broth
1/4 of a bottle of Dry White Wine
Handful of Fresh Thyme
A clove of Garlic, chopped
1 large of 2 small onions, chopped
1/3 cup of Heavy Cream
1/4 cup of Salted Butter

  • Prep first: cut mushrooms into even pieces, set aside. NOTE: to clean mushrooms--DO NOT soak/rinse in water! The way to clean up mushrooms is with a damp towel or damp paper towel and rub the caps and try to remove as much dark dirt as possible. Somewhat tedious, but soaking with water is, apparently, not good for the mushrooms and therefore not good for your soup!
  • Chop Onions & Garlic, set aside, seperated. Throughly wash Thyme and slide the leaves off the stem, set aside.
  • In a large pot, turn heat to medium/medium-low and add butter to melt. Once bubbling add chopped onions. Sweat for a couple minutes, then add garlic and all mushrooms. Allow to sweat together (add a little salt) for 5 to 10 minutes until reduced significantly by size and the mushrooms are brown.
  • Add Wine and Fresh Thyme. Increase heat and bring to boil. Allow to boil this way for 3 to 4 minutes to burn off some alcohol.
  • Add Chicken Broth. Bring to boil once again. Boil for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and begin processing the soup in batches.
  • Once all is processed, bring on heat again, medium. Taste test. Add salt & pepper to taste as well as cream. Mix and bring to a gentle bowl. Allow to gently bowl for about 5 minutes.
  • Serve with toasted bread that has been rubbed with cut garlic clove and sprinkled with Olive Oil.

Serves about 4 to 6.


OK, like most recipes, it takes awhile to perfect. That being the lamb meatball I have been making for almost a year now! But, inspired by Ruth Reichl's recipes and their emphasis on simplicity, I created a lamb dish this weekend as a tapas-style appetizer for some girlfriends and it was perfect! So I had to write down the combination before I forgot it.

This is one of the easiest appetizers to make--it tastes and looks like it took forever, but really just takes a few minutes of prep and a few minutes of cooking, hardly any cutting involved either!

NOTE: This would also be amazing served on a bed of simple cous cous. I did not have any around, but I would like to serve it that way next time.


1/2 lb of Ground Lamb
1 tblsp of Yogurt (good yogurt only, tart, like Erivan)
A few dashes of Worcestire Sauce
Half Palmful of Cumin
Half Palmful of Coriander

Quarter Palmful of Allspice (this is a Spice Blend)
Quarter Palmful of Dried Oregano
Eigth Palmful of Cayenne
Black Pepper

6 to 8 oz of Tart Plain Yogurt
1 Garlic clove, minced
Juice from 1/2 a Lemon

Handful of Toasted Pine Nuts

Optional: Cous Cous

  • First do the prep: Mix all dried spices, tablespoon of yogurt and worcestire with ground lamb. Massage thoroughly so that all spices and liquids are absorbed by the meat, warming the meat in the process. Seperate into bite-size meat balls. NOTE: it is a good idea to bring any meat you are cooking, up to room temp from the fridge. Some believe that the shock from the cold fridge directly to a searing pan is too much a temp change for the meat. I tried bringing it up to room temp for this recipe and I swear that it changed the outcome. They were perfect. So leave the meat out up to 1 hour before cooking to allow it to warm slightly. I also did this with the yogurt, so that it was not too cold when I mixed everything together in the end.
  • Make the yogurt: combine yogurt, garlic, lemon juice & salt. Stir. Set aside.
  • Toast pine nuts: introduce nuts to a medium-high heated dry pan. Sautee, moving constantly, be careful not to burn. Once they have darkened slightly and are fragrant, remove from heat and set aside.
  • When ready to serve: heat pan to medium/medium-high heat. Add meatballs, searing them on different sides every 30 seconds for a couple minutes. Then allow to cook for 3 to 5 more minutes, moving them every so often. Taste test to make sure they are done.
  • Serve them in a shallow bowl topped with yogurt and then toasted pine nuts. You can also layer all of this on top of the cous cous--the cous cous will be delicious with the yogurt sauce.


I can't believe I hated Green Beans for so long. They're so unassuming, mild and generally non-offensive. And a recent guest to a dinner I prepared this weekend informed me, apparently filled with all 13 amino acids. Have to fact-check that one, but nonetheless, the green bean is now one of my favorites!

I attempted to recreate a dish I have had in many fancy steak-houses. It's a sweet, salty and littered with almonds.

It was very easy to make! A great side-dish or a dish in it's own right (I could eat all of this for dinner). I served it tapas-style for my dinner party this weekend. Enjoy!


2 to 3 handfuls of green beans, ends cut or snapped off
2 tblsp of Salted Butter
1/2 a clove of Garlic, minced
1 tblsp of Light Brown Sugar
dash of salt
handful of Sliced, Blanched Almonds

  • To cook the Green Beans: you need to boil them gently first to make sure they are cooked through. Like a good pasta dish, you want the beans to retain their crunch so try in earnest not to over cook them, they are always better a little under-cooked than over-cooked! Bring a pot of water to boil, generously salted. Add Green Beans and boil for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • While the beans are boiling, prepare a bowl filled with ice and cold water. Set aside.
  • Remove beans from heat, drain in colander. Then with your tongs, dunk the beans in the ice-water--this is called BLANCHING--a cooking method used mainly for green vegetables in order to retain their bright green color. The philosphy is to "shock" the vegetable by taking it from boiling hot to ice cold in seconds. If left to cool-off by themselves, the greenness slowly fades. Especially good to do if you are not serving the dish right away.
  • Dry off the beans with paper towel and set aside.
  • Toast the almond slices by introducing them to a dry pan heated on medium-high heat. Add almonds and sautee them, moving them constantly for 1 minute or so, until they begin to brown, once they start to change color and are fragrant, remove and set aside.
  • When you are ready to serve the dish, take a pan on medium heat. Melt butter and toss in garlic for a few seconds, then introduce green beans. Add a dash of salt. Sautee for a minute, then add the tablespoon of Brown Sugar and Almonds. Sautee for another minute or two, making sure they are heated to your liking, serve immediately.

Serves 3 to 4 as a side or appetizer.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Remember bake sales!? We had the most amazing bake-sales in Ohio--Moms would make cookies: snickerdoodles, sugar cookies. They'd make candy bars. And Rice Krispy Treats. And of course there was always the OHIO Favorite (GO OSU!) the Buckeye.

But nothing got me more excited than something called Puppy Chow. You may have heard of it under a different name, but in Toledo, Ohio, this concoction was always called Puppy Chow and made with Crispix Cereal (not Rice Chex as in other variations, i.e. "Muddy Buddies").

This was my first attempt to make the treat and it was successful! And OH SO GOOD. It really couldn't be easier. Makes a good Bring-to-Work Treat, if you're feeling that generous.

9 cups of Crispix Cereal
1 cup of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup of Creamy Peanut Butter (I prefer Jif)
1/4 cup of Salted Butter (4 tblsps)
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1.5 to 2 cups of Powdered Sugar
1 clean Brown Bag or very large Ziploc Bag

  • Count out 9 cups of Crispix and set aside in large mixing bowl.
  • Combine Choclate Chips, Peanut Butter & Butter in a Microwave-Safe Mixing Bowl.
  • Pop into the Micro for 1 minute intervals. After each minute, stir the concoction with a spatula until melted and not too thick (you want it to easily coat the cereal).
  • When it's reached it's desired consistency, add Vanilla. Stir to incorporate.
  • Pour over the cereal. Patiently, stir cereal and mixture together "folding" as to avoid breaking the cereal until it is all coated.
  • Pour your Powdered Sugar into either Brown Paper Bag or Large Plastic Bag. Add Cereal and shake until all is coated.
  • Ideally you would spread this over wax paper to dry. But I just placed it in a tupperware and stuck it in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Keep refrigerated when not eating.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Inspired by Ruth Reichl and her Mushroom Soup from Comfort Me With Apples, I decided to fight my Fall blues away by creating my own quick-soup tradition.
Broccoli seemed best. Healhful and with a strange odor that is at once delicious and repugnant--but always earthy, and it reminded me of that wet-dirt and fallen-leaves smell that accompanies the season.
It's always a struggle to make something simple, so I tried to use simplicity to drive this dish. You can do without the thyme, the cream, and garlic. But then again--what fun is that? I have discovered that a little bit of nutmeg, really makes this soup, so don't skip out on that ingredient.
You will need some sort of blender/food processor/hand blender.
This makes 4 very satisfying portions, or 6 smaller ones. Very easy to make after work or on a cold weekend afternoon.
1 lb of Broccoli Florets, cut evenly
4 cups of Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1 can of Cannellini Beans (14-15 oz is great)
1 Onion, minced
1 Large Clove of Garlic, minced (optional)
1/4 cup or 4 oz. of Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup or 4 tblsp of Salted Butter
1/4 cup or 4 tblsp of Heavy Cream (optional)
Sea Salt
White Pepper (this makes a difference)
1 Bay Leaf
1 tsp Dried Thyme or 1 tblsp Fresh Thyme (or more if you like)
1/4 tsp Dried Nutmeg
  • Do the Prep work to make life easier: mince Onion, set aside. mince Garlic, set aside. Cut Broccoli florets, set aside.
  • In your large pot or dutch oven, heat to medium-low. Add 1/4 cup of Butter and allow to melt and begin to bubble. BE CAREFUL NOT TO BURN, butter needs to be on medium/low-medium to retain it's richness and not burn and brown. Once bubbling, add minced Onions, stir to coat and allow to sweat for about 3-4 minutes. Add minced Garlic, allow to continue cooking for about 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the 4 cups of Chicken Broth, Thyme, and Bay Leaf. Bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling, add the pound of Broccoli florets, wait until it boils, reduce to simmering and cover. Allow to cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add can of Cannellini Beans that have been drained and rinsed. Boil covered for another 2 to 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat. Set up your food processor/blender to begin blending your soup in small batches--you never want to blend HOT liquids more than half full in any contraption--hot liquids expand when they cook--so please be careful.
  • In small batches (I believe it took me about 5), add soup to blender and also add a palm-ful of the Cheddar Cheese. Blend until even. Keep repeating until all liquid has been blended.
  • Return to pot and keep over low-medium heat. Taste test. Add Salt & White Pepper to taste. Add Nutmeg & 1/4 cup of Cream as well (if so desired). Bring to a low boil for 1 minute to incorporate all.
  • Serve warm with bread.


Everyone tells you that breakfast is the most important meal of your day. I find half the battle is actually wanting to eat the same thing every morning!

I decided to make my own personalized Oatmeal. You can always get the instant Oatmeal mixed with pre-sorted levels of sugars, nuts and fruits--but making your own mix is very satisfying--and you can control the amount of sugar that you consume--an healthful thought since most of the pre-packaged stuff contains a lot of it!

I make a blend now that is very appropriate for Fall. It smells like the season and is so delicious, I have to stop myself from eating it twice a day!

1/2 cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1 cup Water
Dash of Sea Salt

1 Tblsp of Light Brown Sugar
1/4 Tsp of Ground Cinammon
1 pinch of Nutmeg
1 tinier pinch of Ground Cloves

Palmful of Slivered/Sliced Blanched Almonds

  • Combine 1/2 cup of Rolled Oats, 1 cup of Water and Dash of Salt in a Microwave-safe Bowl. Microwave on High for 3 minutes.
  • Add Almonds, 1 Tblsp of Light Brown Sugar, 1 Tsp of Ground Cinammon, Nutmeg and Ground Cloves. Stir. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


It's been quite awhile since I've posted something--a reflection of the flightfulness of the summer months, and perhaps, my personality!

So, I offer this recipe as a last ode to these summer months, that have now, sadly passed. To celebrate the laborlessness of Labor Day, a couple of us dined at Morandi in the West Village and were quite impressed by the Keith McNally restaurant--reminiscent of an Italian cave, full of romantic light and varieties of brick, wood and stucco. The service was attentive and the food was perfect, there were no complaints, just 'ooos' and 'mmms'--aside from the strangely bitter espresso, but hey, nothing's perfect!

I was especially impressed by an "Insalate" I choose--described on the menu as Insalata de Zucchini e Menta (raw summer squash, green chiles & ricotta salata). It blew me away! Such fresh, complex ingredients, clevely presented in an unpretentious way. It seemed a contradiction--as if the chef, Jody Williams, had just tossed together this salad on a whim--but what experimentation and thought must have gone into creating this dish! The flavors bounced off one another with such determination and purpose. Every single bite was stupendous. I decided I had to try and create this myself! That I had to find a way to access these flavors in my every-day life, as my wallet wouldn't allow me the satisfaction of ordering Morandi's every time I had a craving for this!

So I went shopping and guessed at many of the ingredients (for instance--were those raisins or dried currants? happy to know I guess right--dried currants) and whipped up my own version that I believe is very, very similar! Enjoy.


= 1 dinner portion, 2 pre-dinner salad portions or 3 tapas portions

1 green zucchini (med to small size)
1 yellow summer squash(med to small size)
about 1/10 or 1/8 of a lb. of Ricotta Salata (crumbled, see below)
a little lemon juice
a little EVOO
a little salt
a palmful of Dried Currants (plumped, see below)
about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of PIne Nuts (toasted, see below)
about 5 leaves of Fresh Mint (chiffonade, see below)
about 10 very thin slices of raw serrano pepper OR a few pinches of ground Cayenne Pepper
3 to 5 oil-cured olives (they are black in color with pits)

  • this salad is all about prepping and just tossing! so just begin by preparing your ingredients
  • zucchini & squash: wash thoroughly. you want to cut the vegetables the same size. i imitated what Jody Williams did. cut off the end pieces of the squash. then cut each squash into 3 or 4 long pieces. at this point you basically want to cut out the inside of the squash--the watery flesh holding all the seeds. you just want to be left with long pieces of squash with the skin in-tact and no flesh with seeds. julienne all of the squash.
  • take a third of a lemon and sprinkle the juice over the julienned squash, that you have placed in a serving dish. also add just a little EVOO and a sprinkle of sea salt. toss with your hands.
  • take your 1/10 or 1/8 lb of ricotta salata. ricotta salata is simply an aged ricotta (aged by adding more salt to the mild cheese). it is actually fairly inexpensive--it was only $8.99 lb at an artisanal grocery store in Brooklyn, so a great alternative to goat cheese for other salads! the ricotta salata appears as other cheeses, formed into the circular wedge. but once you handle the cheese and apply force, it crumbles quite easily. so crumble your portion of cheese by hand, adding as little or as much as you'd like to the top of the dressed squash.
  • take your dried currants, about a palm-full. place them in a bowl and run hot tap water over them to soak. soak for 2 to 3 minutes as you're preparing the other ingredients. then drain, dry with paper towel, and sprinkle on the rest of the salad.
  • take your 1/4 to 1/3 cup of pine nuts. take a pan and heat it with med-high heat on the stove. add the pine nuts (this is a DRY process, no other ingredients are needed). frequently move the pine nuts as they are toasting. this takes only a couple of minutes. be CAREFUL! do not burn them! this is easy to do, so once they have changed color, just slightly, only leave them on for about 20 to 30 more seconds, then remove from heat and sprinkle over the salad.
  • take your leaves of mint. lay them on top of one another and roll them up. then take a sharp knife and gently cut the roll into very skinny pieces, and viola! you've got long, uniform, thin pieces of mint leaf. sprinkle over salad.
  • remove the pits from the oil-cured olives. then roughly chop them. sprinkle over salad.
  • oh the piece-de-resistance. the raw serrano pepper. procede with caution--and for god's sake, do not touch your eyes! you will only need a little bit of the pepper--and you want to cut it very, very thinly--you just want little punches in every-other bite when you eat the salad, so try a piece and use your own discretion. OR you can try sprinkling cayenne pepper over the salad--i tried raw jalapeno as well, but it gave me a stomach ache!
  • give it a final toss and enjoy!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


In an effort to explore leaner meats (my love for beef and lamb can be overwhelming, especially to a small frame!) I decided to try my hand at the turkey burger.

Perhaps like a lot of other people, I really am not into the "meat" taste, if that makes any sense. Growing up in a household where my mother made Indian Food constantly, we ate vegetarian more than not and the meat we consumed was usually boneless, white breast meat of chicken, cubed and doused with spices and curry. I am used to eating meat with lots of flavor (save lamb or fliet mignon, where the essence of taste arrives from the meat itself) and when you're dealing with chicken or turkey, flavor definately needs to be added.

So I tried out a Southwestern-Style Turkey Burger, based loosely on an Emeril recipe. I tweaked and changed, but it turned out quite nice, and quite healthy! Enjoy.


1 & 2/3 lbs Ground Turkey Meat
1 Large Scallion, minced
2 to 3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 to 2 Serrano Peppers, minced with seeds (or without if you can't handle the heat)
Couple Tablespoons of Worchestire Sauce
1 egg white
1 heaping Tablespoon of Southwestern Grille Seasoning (Whole Foods Brand)
1.5 Teaspoons of Ground Cumin
.5 to 1 Teaspoon of Dried Oregano
Sprinkling of Salt
Sprinkling of Black Pepper

Whole Wheat Mini-Pita
Pepper Jack Cheese
Avocado Slices
Pickled Jalapeno Slices
Opptional: Mustard and/or Mayo

*I served mine with a Simple Green Salad, sans the pita or cheese, and mixed in Avocado to the salad for a low-carb version...

  • Prep your scallion, garlic & serrano peppers. Make sure not to touch your eye or skin with your hands after mincing the peppers! Wash your hands with soup.
  • Pour all dried seasonings into your mixing bowl (oregano, cumin, southwest seasoning, salt, black pepper). Add your minced prepped scallion, garlic & serrano.
  • Add a couple tablespoons of Worschestire Sauce to the bowl & 1 egg white.
  • Wash your hands, then add the Turkey Meat and use your hands to distribute all ingredients as evenly as possible. NOTE: Turkey meat is a lot less sturdy than using Ground Beef to make burgers. This is OK. It might feel very wet but that is needed to grill.
  • Make 5 even patties, NOTE: do not make these thick (as you would want to with beef burgers) make them about a 3/4 inch high and even--you need to cook these all the way through, do not eat them rare or medium, so the thinner they are, the easier it is to cook them and to be comforted that they are cooked through.
  • On your grill pan, preheated for a few minutes on medium-high heat, add your patties 2 at a time. Grill for until you are sure they are done.
  • Serve as suggested on Whole Wheat Pita with ecoutrements or as a protein for a salad.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


One of the many, many perks of living in this fine city is the enormous operation known here as the Greenmarket. This is an organization that helps to deliver fresh, just-harvested produce and food stuffs (goat cheese, grass-fed lamb, sausages, wines, jams, etc) directly to the New York consumer, thus helping the Local Farmer, the Consumer (low prices, no Whole Foods middle-man), and the environment as we cut down on gas-consumption and waste of trucking in produce from Chile and California.

Local Farming is an industry where the more we consume, the more the market grows! This is a renewable resource we should be proud of and support.

New York and the Tri-State Area produces great fruits, vegetables and meats and if it's good enough for the top chefs of many of the top restaurants in NYC ( and in the country) it's got to be great for you and me!

Please visit: to learn more about the Greenmarkets in your area. Many of them are open YEAR LONG but all of them open by June!

Here are the vegetables/fruits that are IN SEASON (not from Farmer's storage) that you should take advantage for the remaining week of May and all of June (according to


Turnip Greens
Swiss Chard
Summer Squash
Herbs (Various)
Beet Greens

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Try this easy, breezy salad in the Summertime when Avocado is ripe and Shrimp seems extra appealing. This is a light and refreshing salad that has lean protein and essential fatty acids (avocado) and just feels great to eat!

It was loosely inspired by a Brunch Salad I used to get, back in the old Astoria hood, at Fatty's Cafe. I don't know what was in Fatty's special House Dressing (it was delicious) but I thought I remembered it with some tahini. So I substituted (gasp! store bought!) Lemon Tahini Dressing and it worked just fine.

*this makes 4 servings

1 packet of Mixed Greens
Shredded Carrots
Cucumbers, Sliced (optional)
Grape Tomatoes (optional--I don't like these, but a lot of people do!)
2 Ripe Avocados
Salad Dressing (Recommended: Lemon Tahini Dressing from Whole Foods)
1 lb. of Peeled & Deveined Shrimp
1 Lemon
Few Tablespoons of Peanut Oil
Salt & Pepper to Season Shrimp
A few pinches of Cayenne Pepper
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced

  • To prepare Salad: Toss Mixed Greens with a couple Tablespoons of Dressing per Serving.
  • Toss in Shredded Carrots, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, & both Avocados--which you have halved, removed pits, scored (create a checkerboard with your knife in the flesh while in the skin) and scoop out the cut flesh with a spoon so it falls in pieces.
  • Set Salad in Fridge while you prepare the Shrimp.
  • In a Bowl toss Shrimp with Peanut Oil, Juice from 1 Lemon, Salt & Pepper to Season, Minced Garlic and about 1/8 tsp of Cayenne--or in other words, just a few sprinklings/pinches.
  • Toss to coat the Shrimp.
  • In a Saute Pan set to Medium-High heat. Introduce the Shrimp with all the juice when the pan is hot.
  • Saute (technically there is a lot of liquid here so you are sort of poaching the shrimp and sauteing) the shrimp until they are cooked all the way through--i.e. the tails are bright pink (with spots) and the shrimps have curled in on themselves very tightly.
  • Allow the shrimp to cool a bit and then evenly distribute the shrimp per salad and enjoy!


A drink that has many qualities of a main dish--Sangria can be sweet, spicy, subtle and fruit-filled all at once. Mastering one's own Sangria recipe no doubt takes a lot of effort and patience (and willing guinea pigs), so it's a good thing for me that some friends have already done the dirty work!

This is a Sangria recipe from a couple of friends with, Pat & Carissa, who make an amazing Sangria--and lucky for us--their secret weapon was bona fide moonshine. But, not to fret, if one can not get a hold of this "illegal liqour" you can alwasy substitute with vodka, rum or brandy (just not all three). Our friend Laura re-created the recipe for her Memorial Day BBQ and, along with her (famous) Deviled Eggs (see post: You Can Devil My Eggs (That's What She Said)) created a BBQ spread to die for. As she said that night, this Sangria is just the right thing to start the night off right.

Note: Since you soak the fruit overnight in the liqour, the fruit will absorb alcohol--and it mainly absorbs the added liqour of choice--so this fruit is potent! This is not a fruit salad for the teatottler.


2 Liter Pitcher
2 Bottles of Wine (Grapey is Best: Purple Moon Shiraz from Trader Joe's is great, $3.99/bottle)
Fruit: Strawberries, Blueberries, Granny Smith Apple, Peach or Whatever but stay away from acidic or citrus fruits such as Oranges or Lemons
8 Shots of Liqour: Vodka, Rum or Brandy (Moonshine if you can get it!)
1 Tablespoon of Ground Cinnamon
3 Large Tablespoons of Honey
Ginger Ale, for Serving

  • Cut fruit into small chunks and put in pitcher
  • Add wine & liqour
  • Take 1 cup of the mixture (sans fruit) and heat over low heat
  • Heat the mixture of wine/liqour while adding all Cinnamon and Honey but do not boil!
  • Stir over low to medium heat until Honey and Cinnamon both dissolve
  • Slowly add the heated solution back to the rest of the wine/liqour
  • Allow the wine/liqour & fruit soak overnight
  • Serving Time: Spoon Fruit & Ice into serving glass. Pour Sangria to fill glass 1/2 to 3/4 full, then top remaining 1/2 to 1/4 of glass with Ginger Ale. Stir, Drink & Enjoy!


Another BBQ favorite is the Deviled Egg. I have only had 2 Deviled Eggs in my life where I was surprised at how amazing they can be! One was at Lure, a restaurant in SoHo (the basement of our office building) where they top the favorite with Fish Eggs (sounds gross, but the little spheres of saltiness add nicely to the creamy yolks).

The other Deviled Egg was made by our friend, Laura, for her raging Memorial Day BBQ this past weekend. They were delicous! I asked her for the recipe and she gladly supplied it--so enjoy!


12-16 Hard Boiled Eggs
1/2 to 3/4 cup Mayo
1/4 to 1/2 cup Dijon Mustard
1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder (optional, but come on!)
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Paprika for Garnish

  • Halve boiled eggs (once they have thoroughly cooled) and carefully remove yolks.
  • To make 24 deviled eggs, use the whites of 12 eggs and the yolks from 14 to 16 eggs--using more yolks than whites will allow you to relaly load the shells up with the good stuff)
  • Choose a mayonnaise/mustard ration within the 1:1--2:1 depending on how spicy you are feeling. Laura made them mustard heavy and they were delish!
  • Whip together yolks, a total of 1 cup mayonnaise/mustard mix, salt and pepper, cayenne and garlic powder.
  • When the yolk filling is light and fluffy transfer it to an icing bag with a wide tip and pipe filling into individual egg white shells.
  • Sprinkle with paprika to garnish (cayenne can also be used as a spicy garnish).

Thanks Laura!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Be the sensation at any BBQ this summer!

'Tis the season for Grilled Meats and Deviled Eggs. And here's the dish that I love to bring to any BBQ and it is ALWAYS a hit, no matter the demographic!

It all started with my friend's Mom's Taco Dip. She used to make it all the time for us, and then my friend started to make it and I had to get the recipe! I have since taken this to at least a handful of BBQs and it's always gone at the end.

*NOTE: Mama Havill's original Taco Dip was a bit different, I couldn't remember it exactly and compromised and made the recipe below. But she originally called for a can of green chillis to be mixed in with the beans (instead I mixed in Taco Sauce), then a thin layer of Taco Sauce, and also to sprinkle chopped tomoatoes on top (I am very picky about tomatoes).

This Memorial Day I made TWO lasagna-pan sized dishes full and they were both gone!

What's fabulous about this dip is that
1) it is served cold or at room temp (if you've just made it)
2) it's totally adaptable to your tastes (exchange tomatoes for olives for example) and
3) it does not require cooking
4) all you have to do is assemble the ingredients---I
actually bought all the ingredients in a grocery store in Boston and assembled both pans at our host's apartment using nothing more than 1 mixing bowl and 1 spoon!

*This recipe makes 2 13x9 inch pan's worth of tasty taco dip

2 Disposable 13x9ish Aluminum Pans (no mess clean up for your hosts)
2 cans of Refried Beans (I used Fat-Free, but any kind you like)
1 large can of Taco Sauce (I used Medium, but would have rather used Hot)
2 bags of Mexican Shredded Cheese or Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 large container + 1 small container of Sour Cream
1 Head of Iceburg Lettuce, Shredded
1 Large Bottle of Pickled Jalapenos
1 Medium to Large Bottle/Can of Slice, Pitted Black Olives
2 bags of Chips of your Choice for Dipping

  • Prepare the Refried Beans: Mix 1 can of beans to 1/2 bottle of Taco Sauce. You might want to microwave the beans/sauce together for about 1 minute just to make it softer to mix. Do this 2x as you have 2 pans to fill!
  • Evenly spread out the bean mixture on the bottom of the pans.
  • Layer an equal amount of Sour Cream into both pans, on top of the beans. The 2 mixtures might mix a little, but do your best to maintain the 2 levels.
  • Shred the Iceberg Lettuce and evenly distribute on top of sour cream & refried beans.
  • Then distribute sprinkle the black olives over the lettuce, as much as desired.
  • Then distribute the cheese, evenly (1 packet to 1 pan) over everything.
  • Last but not least, place the pickled Jalapeno slices all over the top.
  • Serve with Chips. Place the 2nd one in the fridge--guarantee they will both be gone!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


A co-worker asked me what I thought every Kitchen needs to be fully equipped to handle any kind of culinary whimsy. This was such an interesting question and something I have had to teach myself (and am still researching, learning) so we thought it'd be helpful to put a post on the blog about it.

I am not going to list the obvious like, spoons, plates, etc.

The first items below, in my opinion, are essential time-savers, money-savers, and gastronomical boosters. Things you would need to try any random recipe you find on the internet or on this blog! The 2nd set of items are things that are super convenient and very nice luxuries for cooks with bigger budgets and more counter-space than the average NYC apartment...also things that I wish I had and/or are saving up to buy!

  • A Set of Tupperware-like Storage Containers: these babies are essential to any new cook or person who wants to spend more time in the kitchen. More often than not, recipes make more than a meal's worth and you don't want that all that food and love going to waste. Get a variety of sizes, I wish I had 2 to 3 "casserole" size dishes, perhaps 2 medium sized ones, and at least 4 "one-portion-sized" containers so that you can bring your leftovers to work with you!
  • Metal Kitchen Tongs w/ Comfy Grip: Consider these your kitchen hands! You can handle anything, from sauteeing veggies to removing hot pasta from the boiling pot to taste-test. These tongs make the cooking process easy and mess-free.
  • Zester Grater: This is a specific Grater with a very fine cut that is used specfically for Lemon/Lime Zest, Parmesan Cheese & Cocunut. Now, this may sound like a luxury, but I can't tell you how many times I use this one! It was given as a gift and it is such an invaluable tool. I would be sad without it. And, you know, the secret to great fresh Basil Pesto is to add some Lemon Zest...
  • Food Processor: Speaking of Basil Pesto--another kitchen must-have is a Food Processor. You don't need a huge one but a good size to make these everyday favorites--for cheap! Pesto, Olive Tapenade, Hummus. It's as easy as combining the ingredients and pressing the button. Literally. This is a no-brainer.
  • Stand-Up Cheese Grater: Speaking of saving money--grocery stores jack up prices of pre-shredded cheese for the convenience saved--but why not just shred your own? It really doesn't require much energy and will save you up to $2 per cheese unit you buy. Get the Stand-Up kind, so that the cheese collects on the inside, the flat ones tend to be messier.
  • Nice Wine-Opener: This is definately a must, not just because you may like to drink wine but because wine is a key ingredient is flavorful cooking from all regions of the world. You don't need that fancy rabbit-stuff either (very expensive), just a conventional Opener that has a good grip, I have a Good-Grips model and it's smooth like butter.
  • 2 Saucepans: When it comes to the stove-top you'll find yourself using about 3 things all the time. 2 of the 3 are Saucepans or just pans. You need a big one for boiling full bags of pasta and making large soups but also a medium-sized when cooking sauces or cooking for one. You can get a tiny one--but I've seriously never used one. There may be some fancy French sauce that requires such a tiny pan, but I haven't run across that yet. Although, I confess, I do have a set of 4 Copper-Bottom Pans, but I swear I only use 2 of them!
  • Non-Stick Frying Pan: You need one of these babies to do everything from stir-fry to cooking eggs in the morning. Now, I say non-stick because, it's easy to clean! The only time you'd need a non-stick, metal (hard to clean) Frying Pan is when you are searing meats and want the brown bits to stick down on the pan so that you can de-glaze them with wine later to make a sauce or jus. I mean, in reality, non-stick large Frying Pan is the way to go. But if you want to have an extra, smaller version that is non-stick, go ahead!
  • Grill Pan: Especially for those living in the city--invest in this! You can grill shrimp with a little EVOO & Lemon or make grilled Asparagus and Peppers or grill up some Skirt Steak. And burgers! Such a great addition to any kitchen, although can be a bit expensive. I have the Le Crueset Small Red one and it works great!
  • Chef's Knife: Can you believe the fact that you really only need ONE knife. YES 1 KNIFE!!! I mean, they say you can always use a Paring Knife, but more on that later. Please invest in a good German or Japanese Chef's Knife. So worth it. And please buy a guard for it (or a wooden block if you have the counterspace). You can send them to the company for free sharpening (at least Shun knifes). Test them out before you purchase. Wait for a sale. These puppies are about $160, but I got mine for about $100.
  • Bread Knife: Oops, I lied. I forgot you need a bread knife, that is long and serrated to cut fresh loafs--these are not expensive however, just great to have around.
  • Slow Cooker: Now your tupperware will come in handy! You'll be freezing up a storm! There are 2 quart, 4 quart and 6 quart Slow Cookers. I reasoned with myself to buy the 4 quart so that it would be easy to cook and have lots of left-overs to freeze for a rainy day--remember making a meal is costly but making a lot of one meal and then saving is cost-efficient absolutely. Slow Cookers are also money-savers b/c the slow method of cooking is best on tougher cuts of meat that are always less expensive! No filets here. Lots of pork shoulder and Beef Brisket--these babies turn the meats into succulent, melt in your mouth morsels, all while you're at work! Plus you can find them for like $20. You only need one that has a low & high setting.
  • 2 Cutting Boards: You need 2 cutting boards. 1 plastic one for meats (and smelly things like onion & garlic) and 1 wooden one for breads and veggies. Try not to mix the two--NEVER PUT MEAT ON THE WOOD. gross! And--use Lemon Halfs (after they've been juiced) to rub on the boards whenever you have them to really get down into the cracks and clean them naturally.
  • Strainer: Buy a sturdy metal (fun-colored ones are popular, mine is teal) stainer. Pasta, veggies, greens. Etc. Also make sure the holes are tiny enough! Nothing's worse than dropping fresh cooked pasta into a dirty sink! Yuck.
  • Wooden Spoons: Buy a sturdy set of wooden spoons. Treat them right. No dishwashers & don't leave them soaking with other dirty dishes! I basically only use wooden utensils to cook, they're light and just feel right. Also, it's sort of like Mascara I hear, you have to replace them every few months.
  • Soup Ladle: Makes serving your dinner-guests (and yourself) easier.
  • Whisk: Not just a cheap one, but a nice one. There are cool ones that are weighted, it might be a little bit of luxury but it's something you'll use all the time so why not make sure it's ergonomic.
  • Spice Rack: I am still missing one of these! And let me tell you, it is SO annoying to dig through all your spices to find the right one as you're cooking. Get one that goes across your wall so that you can see what you've got at once. So helpful. And pretty.
  • Sturdy Mixing Bowl: Make sure you have one (or two) of these babies. The ones with the rubber bottoms are great for not moving on you. Plus you can use them to serve popcorn.
  • Juicer/Reamer: I think these are called Reamers...but you know, something to help you juice those citrus fruits. I have a pretty ceramic one that is a bowl so the juice is immediately collected, very helpful. There are also hand-held metal/plastic versions.
  • Electric Tea Kettle/French Press Coffe-Pot: Now, coffee and tea are very personal things--I like tea so my Electric Tea Kettle is invaluable. But it also comes in handy with some recipes that require boiling water (like cous cous). Now my boyfriend drinks coffee, so I've been thinking of buying French Press to go along with the Tea Kettle and take up less coutner space. But your preferences may be different. Just make sure your kitchen is suited to your caffienated beverage needs.


  • Meat Thermometer: I usually grill or saute my meats so I'm not a big roaster (or oven-user really) but I suppose I'd like to have a Meat Thermometer to get my Roasted Turkey juuuuuust right.
  • Salad Spinner: These things were info-mercial fads but they have turned out to be invalubable for someone who loves to make Basil Pesto! Water is the enemy of pesto, but basil leaves are also very, very dirty. So you have to cleanse them thoroughly but also get them as dry as you can. Paper towels only go so far. This thing would help me out, but I can't justify the buy for just that use!
  • Rice Cooker: I happen to cook rice frequently and have not really had that much of a problem with it (the secret is to keep it covered on the lowest possible heat as you can to prevent sticking) but a lot of people swear by their rice-makers. If you have the space, why the hell not?
  • Paring Knife: Now when you buy the Chef's Knife people swear it's the only knife you'll need--EXCEPT for the bread knife and a paring knife--if you are a person who envisions yourself cutting roses out of radishes, this is your guy. I have a smaller, cheaper knife that I use for any of those occassions.
  • Blender: For food purposes, the Food Processor will pretty much cut it, but if you're a fan of margaritas and pina coladas, this might be a good investment too.
  • Coffe Grinder: True coffee-snobs grind their own beans.
  • Roasting Pan: Something I probably should have but don't. Instead, I bought a slow-cooker...
  • Decorative Cutting Board/Plate: We got a small bamboo cutting board as an Xmas present but we didn't really need it--BUT I find it extremely useful in laying out a nice appetizer/antipasto spread when guests come over! A few have commented on it!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Inspired to make comfort food by a very gloomy Monday, I thought I'd try my hand at Meatballs & Marinara or "Red Sauce". Now this is a recipe that is passed on through generations, everyone's Grandma has her own recipe and her own tricks to make her's taste better than anyone else's.

As I am neither Italian nor do I have a Grandmother who made Meatballs, I realized I had to get cracking to start my own tradition! I perused a few recipes and brought together ingredients for what I thought would make a great Sauce & Meatballs. This was my first experiment and it went pretty well!

I will continue to tweak and listen for little secrets to make a better Meatball and Sauce (do YOU have any?)--but if you're like me and want to try this for fun, this is a great way to start. I used ready-made Tomato Sauce (whatever I had in the cupboard) and whatever pasta I had lying around (Spinach Linguine).

**Since a heat debacle involving too much Cayenne Pepper recently, I did go a little light on the Red Pepper flakes--I think next time I will definately use more.

***I used the 3-meat Triangle for these meatballs. I forgot where I heard this but Pork, Beef & Veal are the standard in meat-ball making. But everyone has their own thing--if you don't like mixing meats or don't like one of the 3, leave it out and substitute whatever else you'd prefer. Before this point, I had made/eaten home-made Meatballs that were only beef.


1/2 lb of ground Veal
1/2 lb of ground Pork
1/2 lb of ground Beef (90% lean is what I used, a lot of Fat in this recipe from elsewhere!)
1/2 cup of Grated Parmesan-Reggiano
1/2 cup of Italian Breadcrumbs
Palmful of Italian Seasoning
1 and 1/2 beaten Egg
Teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes
Grab of Fresh Italian Parsley
3 cloves Fresh Garlic

1 jar of Store-bought Sauce
1 cup of Full-bodied Red Wine (I used Cabernet from Chile, normally a Chianti would work but the San Giovese Grapes are too acidic for my stomach!)
2 cloves Garlic
Small palmful of Red Pepper Flakes
A little Garlic Powder
A little Italian Seasoning
1/4 cup of Grated Parmesan-Reggiano

  • To get things started, first make your pasta. Make sure to make it according to the package directions, al dente (no mushy pasta here). When done cooking, make sure to rinse with cold water to prevent the pasta from cooking further. Set aside.
  • While your pasta is boiling, get your meatball ingredients in order in a large bowl, everything but the meat itself. So add the 1/2 cup of Parmesan & 1/2 cup of Breadcrumbs. Add beaten Eggs. Add Italian Seasoning & Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes, & chopped Garlic & Fine Chopped Parsley.
  • Make sure your pasta is done and set aside before you introduce the meat into the bowl with the ingredients.
  • Combine all meat and ingredients in the bowl--get your hands dirty. Make sure to combine the 3 meats well with ingredients. Mush it all together.
  • Make 1 inch meatballs. I made about 26!
  • Set meatballs in fridge to sit while you prepare to start cooking them. Wash your hands! Raw Meat protocol. I also wash the dishes at this point to make room for the cooking.
  • In a large, non-stick frying pan, introduce a couple swirls of EVOO and turn the stove to Medium-High Heat.
  • In bathes (I did two b/c I have a rather large pan) introduce the Meatballs a few at a time to the pan when it is heated. You should hear some noise, this is good, you want the pan to be hot in order to sear the sides of the meatballs. Ideally you want them to be crispy on the outside & browned. Keep doing this until you have about half or 1/3 of them in your pan.
  • Let them sit on one side for about a minute to sear. Then you have to CAREFULLY turn them around to sear on all sides. Let them sit for a couple minutes on each side.
  • Once they've cooked through, set those meatballs on a plate and continue the process until all meatballs are cooked.
  • With your last batch of meatballs, keep them in the pan. Introduce the set aside meatballs back to the pan. This is when you can quickly chop up a few cloves of garlic and throw them in along with some more Red Chilli Pepper. Let that sit for about a minute, TURN HEAT DOWN TO MEDIUM--do not burn the garlic!
  • Then put 1 cup of wine into the pan. This will deglaze everything and stir the meatballs around in the wine...mmmm. Turn the heat a little higher to help burn off some of the alcohol. Let them sit like this for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Then add your jarred Sauce. Carefully stir everything together. Bring to a low boil/simmer.
  • While simmering, add some Garlic powder, Italian Seasoning, Grated Parmesan & whatever else you think will taste good!
  • Let them cook together for at least 30 minutes.
  • Then serve on pasta and enjoy! MMMMMMMM.

Friday, May 2, 2008


Like the many droves of workers that have an office in SoHo, I fell pray to the Dean & Deluca over-priced machine yesterday.
Having come from a yoga work-out I was particularly hell-bent on eating something good for me. In the precariously laid out space, I managed to find 1 over-priced Naked Juice (buy them at whole foods! The cost of 1 bottle is the cost of the Mega Bottle at Whole Foods!) and a Medium sized "Mediterranean Cous Cous" from their Prepared Foods section.
My hunger pains raging, I get to the register and "fork" over $9+ for the Cous Cous alone! NINE DOLLARS! Now, I'm not a stingy kind of person, but I know when I'm throwing my money away! I looked at the ingredients and thought--wait a minute, I could probably make an entire batch of this stuff for $9! At 4 servings per batch that's $2.25 a pop.
So I went home that night and created my own version. Good thing is, it's HEALTHY, FRESH, EASY, and SITS WELL. Enjoy it as a main dish (in which case you might have to double the serving size!) or as a great addition to a side salad or sandwhich or BBQ!
1/4 cup Uncooked Quinoa (I use the Inca Red Variety)
1 cup Uncooked Israeli Cous Cous
Handful of Spinach Leaves, Stems torn off, and "Chiffonade" into thin, long strips
Handful of Sundried Tomatoes, Tomatoes from an Antipasto Bar, etc.
Handful of Pitted Kalamata Olives
1/2 can of Chickpeas
Small Clove of Garlic, Minced (optional, but come on!)
Juice from 1 Large Lemon
Tablespoon of Red Wine Vinegar
Drizzle of EVOO & EVOO to cook Cous Cous
Dash of Salt & Pepper
  • Cook the Quinoa. Please prepare 1/4 cup according to directions on packet. I actually made 1/2 cup and reserved the other 1/4 in the fridge to make a 2nd batch later on in the week! You might want to do the same. It is similar to preparing rice. 2 parts water to 1 part Quinoa.
  • Cook the Cous Cous. I suggest Israeli Cous Cous and if the packet suggests you toast the Cous Cous, please do--it brings a nuttier, earthier taste out of the tiny grain pastas. I found that 1 cup of Cous Cous requires about 1 and 1/3 cup water.
  • Set the prepared Grains aside. Let the excess water evaporate and the grains cool as you prepare the other ingredients.
  • In a dish add 1/2 can of Chickpeas.
  • Chop a Handful of Pitted Kalamata Olives and add in.
  • Chop a Handful of Sundried Tomatoes/Marinated Sundried Tomatoes & add in.
  • CHIFFONADE the Spinach leaves. So this is a fancy way of saying, take some leaves (any leaves) lay them on top of each other like a stack of papers, roll them up so that the leaves remain long and then slice through them very thinly! Then you've got long strips of Spinach to add to the dish and it looks beautiful.
  • Now that the grains have dried/cooled down, add them to the dish and toss.
  • Dress the grains with Juice from 1 Lemon, Drizzle of EVOO (not too much), Tablespoon of Red Wine Vinegar & Minced Small Clove of Garlic. Dash of Salt & Pepper.
  • Enjoy immediately or save in the fridge and eat within the next 2 days.

Take that Dean & Deluca!

Monday, April 21, 2008


This situation happens all the time: experiment with a new recipe, it calls for fresh herbs, and you purchase a packet (they are expensive) and you end up only using a tablespoon of the stuff. Then you're left with tablespoon after tablespoon of excess and no where to put it! I mean, sprinkling herbs over salad or adding a pinch here and there will only get you so far. What can you do with an excess of herbs?

This was the precise culinary conundrum I found myself in after making a Tuscan Bean Soup (see post: SOUP FOR SPRING). I had plenty of fresh Sage & Rosemary sitting in my refrigerator. And recently, I have been monitoring my monthly expenses, so I was determined to maximize all of my purchases.

So...I made an Herb Butter! This way, I could save the herby spread in the fridge and enjoy it with many loaves of bread to come. Economic & Gourmet-sounding (and tasting)! Perfect! The uses of herb butters are endless I'm sure, you can do the obvious, like spread them on toast to add a fancy touch to any breakfast or sandwich, or you can use them to spread over fresh fish before you grill. I'm still thinking of other ways to use it! Anyone else have any suggestions?

The great thing about making butters, is that there are infinite possibilities! You can make butters with Shallots, or Garlic, or sweet butters like Strawberry Butter or Cinnamon & Brown Sugar. This is my first time making any kind of a spread, so the more I make, the more I can share! Here is the recipe for Rosemary/Sage Butter Spread. Also note that I mixed in EVOO to the Butter to A) make the sauting of herbs easier & B) to make the once cooled concoction easier to spread right out of the fridge!


1 stick of butter
4 to 6 circles of EVOO in the pan
3 to 4 springs of Rosemary, Chopped
8 to 12 leaves of Sage, Chopped

  • In your non-stick pan, heat 4 to 6 circle of EVOO on low heat.
  • Add chopped herbs and lightly saute them for about 3 minutes
  • Add stick of butter, cut the stick into a few pieces to help the melting process.
  • After the butter melts, continue to saute lightly over low heat for about a minute or so, to incorporate.
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO USE TOO MUCH HEAT! You don't want to burn the butter
  • Use right away or place in a covered container and refrigerate for later use.