Thursday, December 30, 2010

Krispy Kale

I have no love for kale. Well, let me rephrase that. I HAD no love for kale. Bitter and chewy, the first time I cooked it at home, it tasted like rubbery, scratchy seaweed. (Yuck!!) However, I have recently learned to turn this hardy green from yuck to yum- and even Ryan likes it! I wouldn't bother so hard, but in winter, it is in all of our CSA boxes, and one of the few greens at the markets, so Kale, we're all yours.

Cut the leaves from the stems and discard the stems.
Rinse well under water to get rid of any sand, and do NOT dry. Let the water drops stay- this will help with the cooking and the krisping.
In a pan, pour in a bit of olive oil, and dice up a clove of garlic. Once the garlic sweats into the oil, add in the kale, sprinkle with sea salt, and cook down. Once Kale begins to wilt, splash with a capful or two of vinegar- red wine, cider, or balsamic will all work well- and season with pepper. Turn up the heat, and take another, smaller pan, and use it to crush the leaves. Gather them all under the bottom of the pan, and press down so leaves start to crisp. Do this until leaves brown a bit on end and reach desired "krispy" consistency!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tea @ the Plaza

What better way to celebrate the holidays than with the perfect NYC afternoon? And what better way to start off a holiday tour than with tea at the historic Plaza Hotel?

It might sound like a silly excuse to overpay for finger food- but Ryan and I- about once a year- really enjoy it. Not to mention how beautiful the classic tea rooms look!!
We started off with teas and champagnes. The tea- we sampled afternoon blends, and even some decaff- and everybody really enjoyed it. I didn't even bother with cream and sugar!

Our plates arrived, and between all of us, we tried three different menus: The classic, The New York, and a special Vegetarian tower for me.

Ryan's classic included a smoked salmon on wheat toast, which he liked, a cold lobster salad with caviar, which was "great- very delicate and yet decadent at the same time". The roast beef was his least favorite, not rare enough for his taste.

The New York plates included several similar sandwiches, but also had a roquefort cheese and grape, and a prosciutto, mozzarella and pesto.

My vegetarian tower had an amazing cucumber sandwich- a tea time classic, but here, more delicate, with extremely thin slices of cucumber and just a bit of cream cheese. A mozzarella and pesto sandwich was light and delicious, and a truffled egg salad was to die for. (Is there anything with truffle that is not??!)

The scones were lemony and raisiny and warm and soft.

But the best part, of course, is the desserts- mini black and white cookies, cheese cake, fruit tarts, hazlenut napoleons- every last one delicious!

After our tea, we headed to Radio City to see the Rockettes, and then to the Tree at Rock Center.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The perfect snack

Mesclun greens with a lemony-olive oil dressing, marinated olives, slices of a sharp gruyere, a piece of toasted french bread with garlic buttter.... and a glass of white wine.

No, it's not wintery. But with all the soups and chili's and baked sweet potatoes, this super light and refreshing meal seemed just right.

Olive Oil- go with the good stuff

Garlic butter:
Boil 8 slivered cloves of garlic in water. In room temperature butter, mix garlic in and mash well. Sprinkle with sea salt, refrigerate to harden up.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Hi, My name is Lora, and I had my last piece of meat 9 months ago. (HI LORA!) Since then, I've tried on a few labels- but none of the couture seems to quite fit. Vegetarian? hmm.. but I do still use chicken stock- and have looked the other way while eating squash slathered in bacon fat- oh, and let's not forget the bone marrow I unapologetically devoured at Craigie on Main. Plus, I still eat a small and picky amount of fish. So, ovo-lacto pescatarian? riiiiight. Or maybe... ovo-lacto-osteo-lipo pescatarian?



ummm... In the privacy of my own home I jokingly prefer the term 'vegetablarian'- but just yesterday came across a new word, which might come closer still to getting it right: vegivore. I mean, herbivore would work too, but vegivore sounds far more fun, and less like I'm now a type of dinosaur.

So what exactly is this vegivore creature that roams the earth? Well, according to an article in the latest New York Magazine- vegivore's are vegetable lovers who still might eat some meat or meat products, but relegate them to the sidelines, and glorify vegetables in all their forms.

This sounds about right to me. I mean, here I put on display the extremely complicated food rules I now find myself living by, which, well, probably only make sense to me:

I do not eat cuts of meat- pork, beef, chicken, etc. as a norm.

I do, however, make exceptions for locally sourced, sustainable verified 'happy' animals, but really, this is only happening once- and it will be for Thanksgiving. (We are paying big bucks for a happy turkey that lived twice as long as most on a mennonite/amish farm in Lancaster PA and was allowed to live outside, eat grass, and scratch in the dirt.)

I apparently have no issues with foods made from bones. Don't ask me why. But chicken and beef stocks are ok, as is marrow.

I will eat tilapia, tuna fish salad, only the stuff from a can, and occasionally fried cod, or a piece of sashimi or tuna tartare, and the occasional crab-stuffed mushroom, only when covered in cheese.

I will eat vegetables cooked in bacon fat, though I myself would not cook in this manner.

I will eat around meat in dishes- IE, I'll taste the broth of a chicken soup, or the sauce of a dish.

Mortadella is always on the table. All other cold cuts are out. Except when in country of fabulous origin. (See Italy, France)

I'm pretty sure while on vacation, I will taste some meats, but am unlikely to order them.

I now request veg meals for flights.

Dairy and Eggs is all good, though I prefer happy dairy cows and will really only eat free-range eggs these days, preferably from my local CSA.

So, call me what you will, but I'm 9 months deep into this thing- and it still just feels good. I guess for now, the best word I can come up with for me as an eater is happy!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Curried Roasted Winter Squash Soup

My house smells fabulous right now. I am a huge fan of cooking by my nose- there is such a strong connection between the sense of smell and taste, and I find my best cooking happens when I trust my nose to know what my mouth will like. Tonight's creation- like so many- relied on my nose. If you are looking to move away from cookbook recipes and further into your own tastes, I recommend following your nose to this tasty delight!!

1 large butternut squash, acorn squash, sweet potato, or pumpkin, seeded (about 3 cups of puree)
olive oil
3 tblsp butter
3 shallots, or 1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
small piece of ginger, peeled and grated (about a tblsp)
1 can coconut milk
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 tsp curry powder
dash cayenne
salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash down the middle, stab all over with a fork, and rub with olive oil. Roast 30 minutes to an hour, until the squash is tender and begins to peel from the skin.

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium heat. "Sweat" the onions and garlic, allowing them to turn translucent but not to brown, stirring. Grate the ginger after a while, once the garlic and shallot aroma is strong. Allow to cook a few more minutes.

3. Season onions, garlic and ginger with curry, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir in stock and coconut milk.

4. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes.

5. Scoop the squash out of the peels and add to soup. Allow to cook an additional 15-20 minutes.

6. Puree in a blender, taste, adjust flavors, and garnish with cilantro to serve!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Homemade apple sauce!

Ryan and I decided to go apple picking while visiting Western Mass for a wedding. It was a beautiful day, and the apples were calling our name.

We scored a nice variety of red delicious, granny smith, and Macintosh.

Ryan came in handy- with his height and long arms- to get the good ones at the top.

So, the question soon became what to do with our apple bounty? We decided to make some applesauce!

Apples (I think we ended up using a hearty 6 cups or so)
Water (Apple juice or cider- we used cider, it gave the apples all the sweetness they needed!)
brown sugar (if needed)
pinch salt (always)

Wash, core, and cut up the apples. No need to peel if you plan to use a sieve and grinder to mash them up.
Put them in a pot, and cover with water/juice/cider.
Cook the apples down until they get nice and sticky-season to taste.
Pour into a jar, and refrigerate or can properly to keep on the shelf!!

Happy Apple picking & eating!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Purple Kale: A cooking extravaganza!

A few veggie-minded friends & I decided to take a cooking class from the fabulous Ronna Welsh of Purple Kale Kitchenworks- an amazing woman who founded a company that teaches at-home cooks how to improvise and 'play' like the pros. Check out Ronna & her website here at:

We decided to treat ourselves to a private cooking lesson- there were four of us, and so we received tons of personal attention from our chef-teacher. Not to mention the feast we ate!

Ronna came up with a fall produce menu- featuring 3 vegetables: kale, kuri squash, and fennel. Now, I am by no means a fan of fennel OR kale, and so I have to admit that though I went in with an open mind- I had some reservations about whether ANY recipe could make me love these fall/winter foods.

Well, of course, Ronna blew my socks off!! First off, she made me LOVE kale- 2 ways- sauteed and crispy with garlic, olive oil, and red wine vinegar (the vinegar really balanced off the bitterness of the kale), and also with garlic, lemon, and salt.

Ronna also got me to taste some fennel that I didn't hate, braised in a little white wine and garlic- and also with mustard. Can't go so far as to say I was converted, but came close. There are a few items I am permanently adding to the repertoire- super-slowly carmelized onions, herb and garlic butters, freekeh grains (pronounced 'freak'), and kuri squash, garlic butter, and gruyere on toast. (Can I get a hell yes to this!!) We also learned how to make a fabulous vegetable stock which we then turned into two kinds of soup: kale, freekeh and onion, and onion soup with gruyere and fresh croutons!!

I can't wait to learn more from Ronna- and I highly recommend taking her classes if you live in the NYC area!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

An Ode to Squash: The Red-headed Stepchild of the Produce Aisle

Why has that *other* everyday staple of traditional american cultures, the squash, become the unloved stepchild of the produce section? It's brothers- corn and potato- are rocking the world, one recipe at a time- but poor little unloved squash is relegated to the 'gourmet's and snob's only" column? Since when? And why?

Now, I will admit that I myself had never had squash probably until I was an adult- which is a tragedy. It is soooo good, and easy to make- and cheap, to boot. I suspect that the fact that it cannot be eaten raw might work against it, but then again, corn and potatos need to be cooked too, and nobody looks at you like you have three heads when you say they are on the menu for dinner...

I have used yellow squash and zucchini in many recipes now and love them all- and as summer turned to fall, the time for heartier squashes- acorn, butternut, spaghetti, and buttercup- made me want to find new recipes and ways to enjoy this odd-looking, yet delicious fruit.

Spaghetti Squash:

This squash, named for the stringy flesh that comes out after cooking- is slightly sweet. My favorite way to serve it is with red onion, cheese, fresh black pepper and salt. I know a lot of folks who like butter and cinnamon- not my personal taste, but if you are a fan of sweet/savory combos with cinnamon, highly recommended. The most fun way, perhaps, is to top with mozzarella cheese, basil, and tomato sauce- just like real spaghetti!

Butternut or Acorn Squash

I love roasting either of these squashes with a bit of butter and brown sugar in their "bowls"- and then spread this over the finished squash!!


Last but not least, good ol' pumpkin. I have not yet made this at home- but always look for curried pumpkin soup on menus in the fall.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What's fa Supper?

Supper is a classic NYC restaurant in the fall for me- and one of those spots that is just all about memories. Good memories. And good food. We came here with Ryan's mom & aunt, my grandparents, and lots of our friends. We've had date night here- sat outside when it was chilly with our coats on- inside by the kitchen (and then I spilled water ALL over my friend)- in the back, and in the front.

What's so good at Supper? Ryan is a devotee of the priest stranglers- a handmade pasta that is long and skinny, with fresh tomato sauce and soft ricotta on top. I have tried many different dishes- ravioli with pumpkin and sage, and most recently- a grilled vegetable platter that was just soooo amazing. Everything was super fresh. Roasted beets, red peppers, tomato, eggplant and zucchini. I am also a huge fan of the wine selecetion and the bread and canneloni beans that they serve before your meal. The last time I also tried the grilled polenta with sweet gorgonzola cheese, totally awesome.

I've also had some darn good tiramisu here- this place is what memories and good food are made of!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

watermelon, lime and jalapeno salad

Before the summer season completely fades from memory, I wanted to share this recipe. I made it for our labor day party- and though the picture shows pink watermelon, I used a yellow melon instead. Ryan declared the salad to taste like a "lime-lemon ice pop"- and indeed it was extremely refreshing! A great palate cleanser or interesting side for a picnic!

3 tbs. lime juice
2 tbs olive oil
2 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
1 jalalpeno chile, seeded and sliced
sprinkle salt

Whisk together the lime juice and oil, and set aside.
Place watermelon cubes in a dish and pour lime mixture over top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Place 5 jalaoeno rings at the bottom of serving dish. Place watermelon on top, and divide marinade. Garnish with a sprinkle of salt, and a piece of basil.

Friday, October 1, 2010


The newest mexican restaurant in Williamsburg- and wow, the best. Finally, a place with fresh ingredients and non-gentrified flavors. My constant complaint about Mexican food in NYC is that it all tastes anesthetized- no spice, no seasoning- just tons of heavy nacho cheese, stale tortilla, and microwaved beans and chewy bits of rice. At the other end, we have some very upscale mexican joints- but come on, who really wants to pay $30 every time they want a decent enchilada?

Compared to the flavors and freshness of mexican food in California and Texas- it's really just unacceptable.

So, you can imagine my joy at finding a spot committed to creating good, authentic mexican food at a reasonable 'neighborhood' price point.

Ryan has tried the chicken, pork, and steak tacos. He loves the chicken- they spice the chicken itself, and each taco comes in a double shell (According to Anthony Bourdain, the sign of the real deal). The salsas are all amazing- and there is definitely some spicy heat to them all.

Ryan has also tried the chicken enchiladas with red sauce, which he really liked. I've had the vegetarian enchiladas- which impressed me, because they weren't stuffed with cheese- but actual vegetables! Spinach and mushrooms, topped with a tomatillo green sauce, and several different salsas. I found the same was true for a vegetarian quesadilla special- full if veggies, not cheese, and lots of flavor.

I've also tried three soup special- all of which were soooo good! A chilled avocado soup, which was creamy, rich, and full of 'green' flavor, a cauliflower soup that had a slight curry flavor to it- really interesting and unique- and a squash soup that tasted a little like stuffing at thanksgiving- lots of sage, celery, onion, and butter flavor- and all that tastes gooood.

Finally, we tried the flan, which was tasty, too!

This is such a welcome addition to our subway stop, and to the city in general!! Can't wait for my next order....

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Apple Ladybugs

I just had to share this adorable recipe that I made with my students. This month, we are celebrating apples as our fruit of the month. I did a 'cooking demo' class for them, and the girls loved it! This treat- while being cute, also is quite tasty.

1 red apple per 'ladybug'
thin pretzel sticks
peanut butter, other nut butter, or honey

Cut the apple in half and remove the seed and core.
Dab the peanut butter on several spots on the back of the apple.
Place a raisin on each peanut butter spot.
Stick some peanut butter on the end of each pretzel, add a raisin, and attach to the front of the ladybug.

Snack away!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Roasted Pears

Pears are not my favorite fruit- you wait around for days until they are ready to eat, and then in what seems like a minute, they are over-ripe and gross!! I had a batch of too-ripe pears, and thought I'd try this recipe to save them. After all, it only requires 2 other ingredients, so it seemed fairly no-risk. Well, what came out of my oven tasted more like candy than fruit, took no time at all to prepare and make, and was delicious hot and cold!! I could imagine pearing (haha, get the pun?) them with a peppery arugula salad and a little goat cheese, or in a sandwich with brie and a splash of truffle oil. Enjoy!

Pears- as many as you want, I used 3 slightly over-ripe ones
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut pears in half and core them.
Place pears in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, and salt and pepper generously.
Bake about 30 minutes, until pears are soft.

Eat hot or cold!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Buddha Bodai

Oh, vegetarian heaven. I have been here several times- but this past time, almost 7 months in to my vegetarian goodness, this vegetarian-kosher spot tasted better than ever before. I am not the world's biggest fan of fake meat- I usually opt for real tofu or for all-veggie dishes- but this chinese restaurant- which I'm pretty sure is the real deal- I was one of the few english speakers on my last visit- is no joke. My veg friend, Stacey, joined me, and declared it "the best food ever". It was like two hours of pure chow down.

So, what delights did we try? We split an order of the sesame chicken- actually tofu, not fried, with the most perfectly steamed bright green broccoli ever. It pretty much cured every chicken craving I've had in the past months- and reminded me that the best part is the broccoli anyway. The sauce was sweet and tangy, not overly syrupy or thick, and just pretty much made the fresh broccoli taste amazing.

We also had the Buddha's delight crisp noodles- a massive plate of crispy ramen noodles in sauce with bok choy, mushrooms, tofu, and more broccoli. I ate far too much of everything.

As a final compliment to the awesomeness that is this spot, on a previous visit, even my totally skeptical of veg food husband was impressed by the cuisine!

If you are in chinatown and want vegetarian heaven, seek this spot out!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lemon Rosemary Sugar Cookies

These little cookies were to-die-for. Ryan was reluctant at the thought of rosemary in his cookie, but in my brain, this made sense to my sweet-salty-savory loving palate. I also could imagine a childhood in the italian countryside - and the smell of these cookies coming out of Nonna's oven. The recipe yields about thirty small-bite cookies! PS: this recipe is another winner from vegetarian times- Simple, great tasting- I highly recommend it!

1 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. finely chopped rosemary (fresh!)
1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/3 cup corn flour (this was a little tricky to find- I'd look in advance!)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup turbinado (sugar in the raw) or decorative crystal sugar for decorating


Beat butter, sugar, rosemary, and lemon zest with electric mixer 3 minutes, or until creamy. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla.
Whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt in bowl. Add to butter mixture, and beat until just combined. Shape into 2 1-inch-wide logs. Wrap in wax paper, and chill 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray. Slice cookies into 1/3-inch-thick rounds. Place turbinado sugar in bowl and press one cut side of cookies into sugar. Place sugar-side up on baking sheets. Bake 15 minutes, or until golden brown on bottoms. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pasta Sauce: One Year Later

One of my earliest posts to this blog was a recipe for homemade sauce- and that was over a year ago! In that time, I've learned so much- and even that recipe has evolved and changed. The original is still up on the site, if you are curious, but here is the one-year-later take on how to make some good ol' Italian Gravy:

2 28-oz cans of peeled tomatoes (I prefer san marzano imported)
2 28-oz cans of a different brand, sometimes I use wood-fired for different flavor
2 healthy handfuls of freshly chopped basil
1 healthy handful of fresh chopped parsely
1 handful of fresh oregano
Dashes of marjoram, thyme, and rosemary
3 garlic coves peeled & minced
1 shallot minced
stems of celery, minced
olive oil
up to 1/2 can of water
splash of wine
sea salt & pepper- black and red
Pecorino & Parmeggiano cheese to grate on top
Pasta of preference

1. Coat bottom of a sauce pot with olive oil. Over low heat, add in garlic, shallots, and celery. 'Sweat' the onions and garlic- stirring frequently, and NOT allowing to brown. Cook until they begin to break down softly.
2. Add in herbs. Continue to cook over low heat, stirring and crushing ingredients against the sides and bottoms of pot. Add in more olive oil if it starts to dry out. Wilt greens into the oil, releasing flavors.
3. Once herbs have wilted into the oil, add in the 4 cans of tomatoes. Stir and crush some of the larger tomatoes with wooden spoon. Turn up heat and allow to boil briefly, then turn down to simmer.
4. Salt & pepper, allow to simmer, the longer, the better, but at minimum, an hour. If simmering for longer times, you may need to add in more water.
5. Stir occasionally, and after first hour, smell and taste, adjust flavors.
6. Prior to serving, pour in a splash of a dry red italian wine.

This sauce freezes up really well!! We usually have enough to make 4 1-lb boxes of pasta with this recipe. We've also used it on pizzas and in our eggplant & chicken parm!!

Monday, September 13, 2010


I love it when spontaneity pays off! Ryan & I were out for drinks with friends, and a bit hungry- and decided to head off to find some food. On our way somewhere else, we walked past Braeburn- a restaurant I had heard of for its organic, local, fare, and intimate neighborhood vibe. They also have a menu with multiple vegetarian options- which makes them already a hit on my list. So, we popped in, asked if they had space- and to our pleasure, they did!

Ryan had an Old Fashioned cocktail which he said was made just right. A complimentary amuse bouche- a bite of watermelon in mint oil- was light and refreshing. We tried a poached & panko-crusted farm egg for our appetizer, which was both savory and light at the same time. There were pea shoots in the egg that were delicious, as well as mushrooms, making it a great start to the meal.

I tried a second appetizer- which was fettuccine with black pepper, preserved lemon, and ricotta cheese. I am often reluctant to order fettuccine dishes when I'm out because more often than not they are extremely heavy and gooey- but I had high hopes for this spot, and they delivered! The pasta was actually light- the lemon flavor giving it a really nice, clean taste, and the portion size was perfect. A few cherry tomatoes made a nice acidic contrast to the pasta.

Ryan tried the steak, which was a really impressive piece of meat, both in quality and quantity for the price. Ryan, who has had a few steaks in his day, actually declared it one of the better ones he's come across of late- perfectly cooked medium rare throughout with a nicely flavored and seared outer crust. Topped with 'blistered' tomatoes, zucchini and carmelized onions, the dish was really well seasoned and prepared!!

We were both really happy with the atmosphere, cocktails, food, and service- and not to mention the price point! Appetizers were around $10-$12 each, and most entrees were around $22-$25, with the steak at $33. Dinner for two with a shared appetizer and a cocktail in the city that clocks in at the $70-$80 range and tastes this good deserves to be celebrated!!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lime-Cilantro Dressing

Oh man, a new favorite. I am so sick of oil and vinegar and even balsamic vinaigrette- and this is a light, summery, refreshing dressing! We served it with an arugula, spinach, and mesclun salad, topped with cherry tomatoes, and it complimented the bitter greens perfectly.

The recipe is adapted from Frontera Kitchens- a Rick Bayless Restaurant/ product line- and it is just amazing. Check them out!!

2 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 small cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

1/2 of a fresh hot green chile, such as chile serrano, seeded and roughly chopped (I used jalapeno)

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2/3 cup olive oil

Mix together in a food processor or blender, shake well, and voila!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Washington, DC

I always forget- until I'm back- how pretty our capital city is. The grand marble columns... the wide boulevards... the perfect vistas. The glory of planned cities! On our last visit, we got to do some tasty touring as well as eating, and I wanted to feature two restaurants, one new, one a classic- that we sampled!

Masa 14

The concept of this restaurant is latin-asian fusion tapas- an interesting idea, and one which produced many tasty dishes, though I had two fairly consistent comments: too much salt, and too much sauce. Everything was just slightly saltier and "wetter"- for lack of a better term- than was really necessary. And this is a tad bit a shame, because otherwise, the food was really delicious- and this seemed unnecessary!! So, overall, good stuff, but perhaps ask them to hold the salt and sauce on the side....

We tried a sampling of dishes, not even sure if this covers them all- and accompanied them with tasty margaritas and mojitoes.

The baby spinach salad with mushrooms, red pepper, and black bean dressing was fresh and featured great flavors, but as mentioned previously, had waaaay too much dressing.

The wild mushroom flatbread with oaxaca cheese, red pepper and avocado was actually one of my top favorites- the flavors balanced nicely and it was not over-seasoned. I also was surprised to like the crispy crab wonton rolls with cream cheese, corn, mushroom, shiso, truffle, and spicy ponzu- I think the cream cheese and crab combo for me works well. Finally, the wok seared cauliflower with ginger and an (extremely spicy) chile de arbol was another top favorite, as was the fried tofu with spinach, and sweet and spicy sauce.

Less successful as a complete dish was the green tofu curry with potato, carrot, and cortija cheese. The curry itself was tasty, and creamy- but I found the cortija cheese to seem forced 'fusion' flavor where perhaps a splash of lime would have served better. The feta-like cortija cheese and creamy coconut curry seemed completely at odds, and luckily was easily picked off.
Ryan also tried the pork belly steamed buns, which seemed like the perfect combo of all of his favorite things- but was disappointed by the pork and the bun- which instead of looking like a traditional asian-style steamed bun, looked more like a pita-bread taco shell... Finally, the yucca fries with chimichurri and garlic- lime aioli dipping sauce should have been amazing, but was sooo salty, that the flavors of the delicate yucca were hard to detect.

Overall, my feeling is that as at many tapas restaurants, it is a process of finding the small plates that you like. I'd try this spot again in the future, but I'd also make sure to tell them to lay off the salt.....


Probably well over 15 years ago- seriously- I had my first-ever taste of gazpacho at this DC classic spanish tapas restaurant. In my brain, the gazpacho here has yet to be paralleled in the states- for the traditional, real-deal thing. And, 15 years later, the memory proved true- it is indeed the best classic American take on this classic.

We also tried an eggplant and red pepper salad, as well as papas arrugas- potatoes with green mojo sauce- only like my favorite thing... ever. Sooooo good.I mean, how can a green sauce made with cilantro, cumin, and garlic ever taste bad? Oh, by adding some sherry? nope, still awesome....

If you are ever in DC, make sure to come by this amazing spot. Of course, now I know it is owned by the world-renowned chef Jose Andres, but that only makes me all the more proud to have such an advanced palate back at 8, lol.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Apricot Jam

I am not the biggest apricot fan, but I had to do something with the 15 we got from our last CSA pickup.... so, I took my first attempt at jam. The hardest part is knowing when it is done cooking to the "jelling point". I pulled mine a bit early, and the jam is not super thick, but not watery, either. Probably should have let it go more like 50-60 minutes. I will continue to perfect the jelling method, and keep you posted..... but flavor-wise, this bad boy was the type of jam I've only dreamed of- sweet and tart, citrusy and summery, like a mouthful of sunshine!

apricots- halve and remove pit
3/4 cup sugar, more to taste
juice of 1 lime
splash honey
splash orange juice
pinch salt

Bring ingredients to a continuous boil. Stir frequently, and taste and adjust flavors. Skim off foam. Test for doneness by dipping a metal spoon in and seeing if liquid slowly drips from tip. It took me about 40 minutes to an hour for a smallish batch- give or take. Pour into a jam jar, allow to cool uncovered at room temperature and then refrigerate!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


A tuscan classic!

2-3 Extra ripe tomatoes
1/2 white or red onion
handful of basil
bread- italian or french style, the older the better- if more than 4 days old, rinse or soak in water for a minute and gently squeeze
salt & pepper
olive oil and red wine vinegar

Mix ingredients in a bowl and enjoy!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Burgers, For you meat-eaters out there....

My husband makes a mean burger. I remember from my meat eating days that even I enjoyed his handiwork, and I was never much of a fan of the form. So, for the meat lovers out there, this is how it is done!

1 lb pound- grass/veg fed beef, lean, or ground chuck
2 pieces white bread, no crust
4 dashes worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper
1/2 shallot
1 clove garlic
handful chopped chives
about a tablespoon of milk (add additional, if needed, just enough to moisten)
1/4 stick butter

1. Mix bread, worcestershire, salt & pepper, shallot, garlic, chive, and milk in a bowl.
2. Mash with fork into a paste. Crumble the meat in and form into patties.
3. Melt butter and brush on both sides.
4. Grill for 4-5 minutes per side, if that.
5. Toast buns and serve with your favorite fixin's!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Insalata Caprese: An Italian Classic

This is such a great summer dish, and with heirloom tomatoes- heaven.

Buffala Mozzarella-
(spring for the pricey stuff, totally worth it when featured in a salad.) We get ours from fresh direct- lupara Ovoli, imported- runs about $8.00 for a ball. Let sit out prior to serving to warm up.
Fresh Basil- get it as fresh as you can!
Tomato- red, yellow, and nice and ripe. Make sure you keep them on a counter to stay soft and warm, no refrigeration!!

Cut the mozzarella and tomato into thin slices. Layer on a plate with the basil. Sprinkle with pepper, fresh or dried oregano. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar.

If you want to fancy it up, serve a grilled peach or a few spears of asparagus with the dish- despite stepping away from tradition, totally delicious. Parsley and onion are other options, or even a splash of citrus in the olive oil. A small amount of salt can also be used, but tread lightly, as the mozzarella is naturally salty!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Grilled Corn

Ah, summer corn. We've been getting a ton, and grilling it up. We've found the following method to be simple and produce some seriously delicious kernels, so enjoy!

Based off Bobby Flay's style!

1. Pull down the husk carefully without removing- and gently pull out the silks. Take off dead ends of husks, if any.
2. Pull the husks back up into place and wrap in tinfoil.
3. Cook about 20 minutes on a covered grill, turning every few minutes. Check for golden color to know when done!

Garnish with fresh lime or butter and serve! I Whipped up some garlic butter as a topping- just put 1/4 stick in the food processor with a clove of garlic, and whip into a ball!!

Make sure you use the garlic butter within a few days, or it will go bad!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Nantucket Zucchini Casserole

This made the perfect hot dish for a picnic in the park- I served it with some fresh crusty bread and an arugula salad.

2 medium zucchinis, one yellow, one green, if available
1 medium yellow or red onion, or 1/2 and 1/2, as I did
fresh thyme
cheddar, monterey jack, and mozzarella cheese
croutons or bread crumbs
chicken or vegetable stock
salt & pepper
Corn kernels

Layer the ingredients in a casserole dish and top with the bread crumbs or croutons. Bake @ 425 for about 40 minutes.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Rustic Blueberry Peach Tart

My first attempt at a tart! I was really pleased with this recipe- another one adapted slightly from Vegetarian TImes- and excited to put some super-ripe peaches to good use!

3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
6 oz light cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
2-3 tblsp cold water

5 cups peaches- peeled, pitted, sliced
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
squeeze fresh lemon juice
2 tblsp corn starch
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt

For dough: mix dry ingredients with butter and cream cheese, splash with water and knead with hands until soft enough to form a ball. Refrigerate 30 minutes to an hour.

Prepare filling and allow to sit for about 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. We did 400, since our oven runs a little hot.

Place a piece of wax paper on a large baking sheet and flour. Using hands, roll out dough into 12 inch round and tuck up the sides to create a lip. Pour in the filling.

Bake about 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake 20 minutes more, or until crust is crisp and brown.

Tip: every time you open the oven door, 50 degrees escape! This could be good, if things are too hot- or bad, so try not to check things too often.

As always, tart is done when filling bubbles!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Coal Cracker Food

So I presently have a full head of cabbage in my possession from this week's CSA batch, and it is time to revisit my roots, I think, and put these foods to work in some "Coal cracker" recipes (PA Coal region slang for miners).

I recently had some close Jewish friends in stitches over the foods I particularly enjoy- mainly eastern european and german in origin- that in NYC is more associated with Jewish culture than not. Take for instance the pickled egg- a thing of glory, if you ask me. Ryan was repulsed to discover me eating hard boiled eggs at a rather fancy and upscale wine bar one night, but hey, who can resist a nice salty egg with their booze? Clearly, this is an acquired taste, but one I am proud to have.

Ah, the glory of childhood classics, cooked up with some good memories.

I'll be toasting my Grandparents with these tasty morsels- and thinking of Coaldale, people who say "Jewalry" instead of jewelry, call the comics "funny pages", fireflies "lightning bugs", get "roochy" in the bed at night, and carry "pocketbooks" instead of purses! Hope you are brave enough to try these tasty morsels yourself!


So my first attempt at old school cooking led me to realize a few things: holy butter, batman, and can I get a side of salt with that? All joking aside, it kinda dawned on me during this cooking exercise that the majority of the flavor in classic dishes come from fat and salt- so I definitely took a more modern approach. Therefore, the ingredients and techniques below are starred if they detour from the classic version! This makes about 2-3 servings, I paired it with some toast. PS: It is also quite bland looking with all the white... not pretty, but definitely tasty.

1/2 head of cabbage, remove outermost layer and core by cutting it out. Chop roughly
1/2 white onion
1/2 stick of butter* (original calls for WHOLE stick)
2 cloves garlic*
salt and pepper
chicken or vegetable stock*
Egg noodles * (Broad noodles are traditionally used)

Bring water to boil and cook egg noodles, about 8 minutes, then drain. In saute pan, cook onion and garlic in butter. Add in chopped cabbage, stir together, and then pour in stock and allow to simmer, 5-10 minutes, until cabbage wilts and softens. Salt and pepper generously, add in pinch of paprika, and mix noodles in. Top with a little bit of butter, Serve!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Smoky Chipotle Corn Chow-DAH

What to do with 7 ears of corn? Excellent question. Answer: Make Corn Chowder!!

2 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (Or canned, in a pinch)
1-2 small dried chipotle pepper*
2 red potatoes
1 white onion, or mix onion and shallot
2 cloves garlic
fresh cilantro
shaved sharp white cheddar or mexican cheese
fresh chive for garnish
cherry tomato, for garnish
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock
capful of olive oil
pinch truffle oil, if on hand
dollop sour cream
splash of milk
1/4 stick butter
salt & pepper to taste

1. In large sauce pot, saute garlic and onion in butter. Sprinkle with cumin, and let the onion sweat, without browning, for a few minutes.
2. Add in vegetable stock, potato, corn, and chipotle pepper*. Bring to boil, let simmer until potatoes are tender.
3. Turn off heat and puree soup in blender or food processor and return to pot. Over low heat, add in olive and truffle oil, sour cream, cheese, salt, pepper, cilantro, splash of milk, and parsley. Allow to cook in.
4. Serve with chives and tomato garnish!

*Dried Chipotle Peppers:
To reconstitute, roast in oven at 400 degrees for approximately 5 minutes, until peppers puff up. Remove and immediately soak in warm water for 20-30 minutes, until soft. Split open and remove seeds and stem. Chop roughly!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


So easy to make and so darn tasty, I have no clue why we ever bought them from a store...

15 slices bread- a good peasant round with a nice crust works well
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons garlic salt
Dash of Paprika


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Brush bread on both sides with melted butter. Cut bread slices up into small cubes. Sprinkle with garlic salt and paprika. Arrange cubes on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned. Let cool.
Serve or Store croutons in a covered container or plastic bag.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vegetable Frittata

Thanks to Lori for inspiring this take on a frittata! I wanted an easy, quick meal, that requires little tending, and would use up some past-prime veggies from our CSA batch. Besides, who can say no to an egg pie? Which is basically what a frittata is- I even made it in a pie plate. Similar to quiche, but minus the massive quantities of butter and sans a crust, frittata is the italian cousin! Enjoy!

Serves 4.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

6 Eggs, lightly beaten
salt & pepper
sliced zucchini
red onion
green pepper
shredded cheddar cheese and mozzarella
swiss chard or spinach
basil and oregano to top
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 piece of bread

1. Beat the eggs and shred the cheese into the mixture. Add in the veggies and toss to coat.
2. In a pie plate, tear up bread pieces and spread around. Pour egg and veggie mixture into plate.
3. Top with herbs, and if desired, more cheese.
4. Bake for about 35 minutes.

I like to top this with a little hot sauce!! Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


With so many little cukes lying around, I figured the time had come to learn about the picklin'! So, always a believer in doing everything in a grand fashion the first time around...I am going to make pickles three different ways. I settled on Dill pickles (inspired in part by 2 bunches of dill from the CSA), bread and butter pickles, and an asian-style pickle, just to kick it up a notch.

Now, being lazy, and seeing as it is 100 degrees out and standing over boiling water is not my idea of fun, I have decided to make refrigerator pickles- They'll still keep in canning jars, but only be good when kept in the fridge, and for a few months, compared to proper canning technique which would keep on a shelf for up to a year. That will have to wait for another (cooler) day....

Ok, ready, set... pickle!

Dill Refrigerator Pickles- 2 Quart- size jars worth!

cucumbers, cleaned and quartered or halved, or even whole, 2-3, depending on size
1/2 tbslp Pickling Spice*
1 bunch dill
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 tblsp salt
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
Optional: 3-4 whole cloves of garlic

*Pickling Spice
Buy in stores, or, as I did, make your own:

1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp red pepper- cayenne
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tbsp whole clove
1/4 tsp celery salt
pinch tumeric

1. toast the peppercorns, mustard seeds, and coriander seeds over low heat- make sure to put a lid on them, they will jump out of the pan as they heat up! Stir them a few times, and after a few minutes, remove from heat.
2. Crack the seeds with the flat end of a knife.
3. Combine all the spices in a bowl.

1. Put the bunch of dill at the bottom of the jar. Cut cucumbers and add into the jars. If using garlic, slide in between the cucumbers.
2. In a sauce pan, combine the water, white vinegar, peppercorns, pickling spice, and salt. Bring to a boil, and let boil for 3 minutes. Turn off heat and allow brine to cool to room temperature.
3. Pour brine into jars, seal, shake lightly, and put in fridge.

Wait patiently for....2-3 weeks...


Pickles- Asian Style

2 medium size cucumbers, cut into thin slices
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
little bit of water to dilute
2 tsp tamari soy sauce
juice of 2 limes
handful of fresh cilantro
1 shallot, rouchly diced
1 whole clove garlic
1/2 tsp red curry paste
dash siracha
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cucumber, sliced into thin circles

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Layer shallot, garlic, cilantro in bottom of jar, then put in cucumber slices. Pour in the lime juice. In a separate bowl mix vinegar, sugar, and red curry paste, allow sugar to dissolve. Pour into jar to cover cucumber slices. Shake well and allow to marinate for a day or more!

Good news: Ready overnight, but flavors only get better with additional days!

Bread & Butter Pickles

2-3 medium cucumbers, sliced thin
1/2 white onion, sliced thin
1/4 salt
2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp tumeric
1 clove garlic

1. Place a thin layer of cucumber and onion in a bowl and cover with some of the salt. Create a second layer and salt. Fill bowl with water to cover, and set aside 1-2 hours in fridge.
2. Rinse cucumbers and onion thoroughly with water and drain
3. In small pot, bring cider, sugar, spices, and garlic to a boil, and simmer 3 minutes. Let cool.
4. Layer cucumber and onion in jar, and pour brine over it. Seal and refrigerate.

Wait 2 weeks... and see what happens!