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!