Quinoa Tabbouleh

07 September, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

1 1/4 cups red quinoa
2 1/2 cups water, salted
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups tomato, seeded and diced
4 tablespoons tahini
2 cups cucumbers, diced
1/2 cup mint, roughly chopped*
3/4 cup flat leaf (Italian)parsley, roughly chopped*
1 1/5 teaspoons Kitchen Imp za'atar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons golden balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar
(*the quantity refers to the amount after you chop, not before.)

Bring the water to a boil in a thick-bottomed saucepan. Add the quinoa and cook at a low simmer until there's a little water pooled in the bottom. Then turn the heat down further and cook until the rest of the water is absorbed. Set the quinoa aside to cool, fluffing periodically with a fork. After the quinoa cools, stir in the tahini, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Then mix in the herbs. Add the cucumbers and tomatoes last and try to fold them in. Add pepper and salt to taste.

Tahini Cookies

22 August, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Tahini Cookies

1 egg
1 t vanilla
1/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup brown sugar or honey
2 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 ½ cups almond flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
a pinch salt

optional: demerara sugar, ground cardamom

In a small bowl, mix the almond flour, baking soda, cardamom (if using) and salt. In a mixer or large bowl, beat the tahini to remove any lumps. Add the brown sugar and mix.  Add the egg, vanilla, and butter, mixing to combine after each addition. Space heaping teaspoonfulls 2" apart, then sprinkle with demerara sugar (if using).

Cook at 350 degrees for 12- 15 minutes, or until slightly browned.

Watermelon, feta and mint salad

30 July, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

This lovely, cooling salad takes little time and almost no effort. Truly.  In fact, the only knife work is the cutting of watermelon into chunks.  I'll only give proportions, so you can scale up or down, according to your desires. 

  • three parts watermelon
  • one part feta cheese (see end note)
  • a small bunch of mint
  • ground pepper or grains of paradise

Cut the watermelon into one inch chunks, crumble the feta into the bowl with the watermelon.  Tear the mint into 1/8"-1/4" pieces.  Grind a little black pepper (or grains of paradise, if you have them handy) atop the other ingredients and stir, gently, so as not to pulverize the watermelon, with a large spoon. 

Note: I strongly recommend sheep feta, if it's available to you, rather than cow feta. Sheep feta has a deeper, more interesting taste. Not that you shouldn't use cow feta!

Sort of Mole (imagine the accent over the e)

26 June, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Here's a recipe for a quick mole with Chipotle Chocolate Rub.  

1 medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup almonds, ground (a food processor or blender will work) or a scant 1/3 cup almond meal
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate and a scant 1/2 cup water or 1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons of Chipotle Chocolate Rub
14 ounces of tomatoes
1 3-4 pound roasting chicken, cut into pieces

In a large frying pan, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the Chipotle Chocolate Rub. Stir, cooking for two minutes.  Add the almonds and tomatoes, mix, and then turn off the heat. Puree the mixture in a blender, then pour back into the frying pan and cook until the mixture thickens and reduces by 1/4-1/3.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the dutch oven. Take the chicken pieces and place them skin side down in the pan, first brown the skin side (3-5 minutes) and then flip and brown the other side.  Pour the mixture from the frying pan over the chicken, put on the lid and cook.  I cook it until the internal temp of the thigh is 150-155 degrees.  Please keep in mind, however, that the USDA says 165 degrees.  So you should do that if you're litigious.  

I recommend serving this with green beans, cooked briefly and at high heat, so they just start to blister and are still crunchy.


20 May, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

A delicious, quick dinner: muhammara (a Syrian or Turkish pepper and walnut dip), Persian cukes, red pepper, roasted cauliflower, and a little beef cigars seasoned with ras el hanout. Add a little warm pita bread, if you like.

1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1 large clove garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
1/2 teaspoon Kitchen Imp harissa
1 roasted bell pepper (red is traditional, but I used yellow)
1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice (we had no lemons, so I used sherry vinegar)
3 tablespoons hard grating cheese or feta (this ingredient isn't traditional, but I like the salty tang it adds to the dip)

Put 'em all in a food processor or blender and blend til just this side of smooth. Serve with sliced cucumbers and pepper.

Chicken Sofrito

06 April, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Chicken Sofrito adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi

Just in time for Passover, or for spring, or for whatever suits your fancy, here’s a truly delicious, colorful, and easy chicken dish.  You can easily scale this for a larger group by doubling.

1 3-4 pound chicken, cut into quarters or pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon pepper
10 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
the juice of one small or ½ a large lemon
3 cups diced white or yellow potatoes (not russets), cut into a 1” dice
Olive oil

Utensils needed: a shallow, heavy bottomed pan; a frying pan; a paring knife; a chef’s knife; a cutting board.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat the heavy pan.  Add 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Mix the salt, pepper, paprika, turmeric, and sugar in a small bowl.  Pat the spice mixture onto the chicken and place the chicken, skin side down, in the pan.  When it is thoroughly browned, flip it and place in the oven.

Heat the frying pan to medium high and add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the potatoes and leave until they are browned on the first side.  Toss to turn and brown another side or two.  Take the chicken out of the oven, briefly put the pieces onto a plate, and put the potatoes and garlic into the pan. Place the chicken pieces atop the potato mixture and drizzle the lemon juice onto the chicken.  Put the whole shebang back into the oven until cooked to your desired temperature. 



Kids, Kale, and Other Stories

24 March, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

Kale, Patience, and Persistence

As anyone with kids knows, hell, as anyone with a mouth knows, they just don’t like some foods that you know they should like.  And you might now either. You try it.  You don’t like it.  You try it again. You still don’t like it.  You know that you should eat more plants and less processed food.  More natural, less chemical. More green, less white.  But, golly, the premade, carb-heavy, partially hydrogenated whatsits can taste so delicious!  But more and more they leave you feeling a little dirty.

What to do?  How do we eat better given our means and limited time?  How do we coax our kids into loving the good stuff? Step by step, friends, step by step.  At least that’s how I approach it. I used to hate kale.  I mean really.  Kale represented all that I should like and didn’t.  Heck, it’s purported to stave off cancer, to lower cholesterol, to give you almost unheard of levels of life-giving phytochemicals.  Kale possesses elevated levels of vitamin K and lots of C and A. HOWEVER.  To me the texture seemed leathery. The taste was strong and tannic.  If it was raw, it squeaked against my teeth when I chewed it.  Cooked, it seemed bitter.  But I kept trying new recipes.  We were never going to eat it morning, noon, and night, but once or twice a week? That wouldn’t be a bad idea.  I want my kids to learn to eat well, but if I couldn’t convince myself, they’d certainly continue the yuck faces and refusal to eat it.

New recipes.  New techniques. Not every week, but periodically.  And little by little, we all started to, maybe not love it, but tolerate it.  And then we started to sort of like it.  And now, two years or so later, we enjoy it.  There’s no dread when it’s set on the table, in fact, there’s curiousity about what’s in it this time.  Will this happen with everything we know we should like and don’t?  Nah, but it’s heartening. 

So what did I do? 

  1. I served it about once a month
  2. I tried a new preparation, one that included ingredients we already liked (avocados, apples, white beans, sausage, and so on) each time.
  3. I made relatively small quantities, increasing the size as we started to enjoy the kale more.
  4. I took the wins (“Hey!  This isn’t so bad!”) and losses (“Um.  I had a bite.  Do I have to eat the rest?”) in stride.  
Oddly, weirdly, we all started to like kale.  While the kids don’t – thus far – love kale, they like it; they eat it uncomplainingly.  And I love it.  And I love that they like it.
So here’s the favorite kale recipe.  It’s fun and quick to make. 

    Kale with Avocado and Apple

    24 March, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

    Kale Salad with Avocado and Apple
    1 bunch kale (I prefer Lacinato or Dino kale)
    1 avocado
    1 small apple (or ½ a large one), cut into matchsticks
    juice of ½ lemon
    1 tablespoons light vinegar (I like champagne vinegar)
    salt and pepper to taste

    Remove the center stems from the kale leaves (if the leaves are larger than 8”). Wash them and dry them in a salad spinner.  Slice the leaves crosswise into ¼ - ½ inch strips.  Put them into a large-ish salad bowl.  Here’s where you get to get messy.  Cut the avocado into 1” chunks and put them in the bowl with the kale.  Now make sure that when you washed your hands before you started this, you washed the backs of your hands and under your nails.  If you didn’t, go do it now. 

    With your fingertips, mash the avocado into the leaves of kale.  You’re done when each leaf has been coated and there are few distinct bits of avocado left.  The rubbing of the leaves helps to tenderize them and makes them, to me at least, far more palatable.

    Now add the apple, half of the lemon juice and a teaspoon of the vinegar.  Toss. Add ¼ teaspoon pepper and ½ teaspoon salt.  Toss & taste.  Add more pepper and acid (lemon juice and vinegar) as needed. 

    Moroccan Shepherd's Pie

    11 March, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

    1/2 teaspoon Ras el Hanout
    1/2 teaspoon Moroccan seasoning (You can skip this and just use 1 teaspoon Ras el Hanout)
    1 teaspoon Urfa Biber (or other mildly spicy dried pepper)
    2 carrots, quartered and sliced
    4 green onions, darkest green part removed and sliced thinly
    1 small onion, chopped
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    2 cups of cooked chicken meat (I used the leftovers from 
    8 leaves kale, main rib removed and cut across into 1" pieces
    1/3 cup of pitted kalamata olives
    1 large or two small garnet yams
    2 medium yellow potatoes
    1 tablespoon butter
    olive oil
    salt and pepper to taste

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Oil a casserole dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

    Put large saucepan of salted water onto the stove.  Bring the water to a boil and add the potatoes.  Boil until fork tender and mash with butter and 1/3 cup milk.  Salt and pepper to taste.

    Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan.  Add the green onion and onion.  Cook on medium heat for ~5 minutes, until transluscent.  Add the garlic, ras el hanout, Moroccan seasoning, and urfa biber, along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Cook until the spices begin to stick to the pan and the garlic is aromatic.  Add the carrots and kale and cook until the kale becomes bright green.  Add the chicken and olives and cook until the mixture is warmed through.  Taste and correct salt and pepper as needed.  

    Spoon the mixture into the casserole dish and smooth it with the back of a spoon.  Spoon the mashed potatoes over the chicken mixture in tablespoons and smooth with the back of that same spoon.  Cook for 35 minutes.  

    Serve with a light green salad with a citrus vinagrette.

    Chicken with Ras el Hanout, Olives, and Lemons

    10 March, 2014 0 comments Leave a comment

    Here's a pop-it-in-the-oven-and-ignore-it dinner.  It's flavorful and sophisticated, while being yummy and subtle.  Which is to say that both the gourmets in your family and the ones with plainer palates will enjoy it.

    1 4-6 pound chicken
    1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons ras el hanout
    15 - 20 olives (I like a combination of oil-brined black and salt-brined green)
    1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
    2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (1 large or two small)
    1 lemon, zest and 1/2 the juice in one bowl, the other half of the juice in another
    2 tablespoons olive oil

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove any giblets, necks, etc. from the cavity and pat the chicken dry.  Salt inside and out.  Mix the zest and juice with the garlic, shallots, olives, and 2 teaspoons of ras el hanout. Either place this mixture in the cavity or place half in the cavity and the other half under the skin.  Rub the chicken with about half of the olive oil and sprinkle all over with the remaining tablespoon of ras el hanout.  Truss, if you feel like it, place the chicken breast down in a roasting dish, and pop into the oven. 

    Let the chicken cook until a instant read thermometer tells you that the flesh of the thigh is 160 degrees.  Remove and let rest for 5-10 minutes.  Serve with rice or couscous and roasted vegetables.