Saturday, July 30, 2011

Black Bean Salad

It has been months since I have posted a recipe.  Rest assured - I have continued my cooking journey.  My poor babies have had a rough winter, spring, and summer fighting colds of all types.  We have tried our best to keep the big guys busy and active while giving the twins time for their immune systems to strengthen.  It has been a challenge, so I had to put the blog on the back burner.

Today's post is a staple in our summer diet.  Joseph will run to the table and pour half of the dsh onto his plate so he can get his fill.  The key to this recipe is making the dressing in a blender, or a hand held blender.  Make the dressing thick.  Add the oil slowly and blend, blend, blend.  Enjoy!!

From Food Network Kitchens
Prep Time:
10 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
6 min
4 to 6 servings
  • Dressing
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • Pinch salt, plus 2 teaspoons
  • Juice 1 1/2 limes (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salad
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears)
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 small hass avocado, halved, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, leaves and stems
Make the dressing: Smash the garlic clove, sprinkle with a pinch of the salt, and, with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear the mixture to a coarse paste. Whisk the garlic paste, lime juice, salt and chili powder together in a bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, starting with a few drops and then adding the rest in a steady stream.
For the salad: Cook the corn, bell pepper, and onions in the olive oil until beginning to brown over medium-high heat in a skillet. Toss in the black beans and cook until warm. Add the dressing and toss to coat evenly. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and gently fold in the tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro. Serve.
Copyright (c) 2004 Television Food Network, G.P., All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Cannellini and Kale Soup

This is better than it sounds - I promise!!!  The secret - A Parmigiano - Reggiano rind.  Ask the cheese counter if you can purchase the rind to the cheese they are shredding for the store.  It is very inexpensive and adds a rich creaminess to the soup. 

1 1/2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large leek, white part only,  sliced and chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium celery stocks, finely chopped
1 t. minced fresh rosemary
2 t. tomato paste
1 large garlic cloves, minced
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
Two 15oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
6 oz. Lacinato Kale, center ribs removed, leaves chopped (approx. 4 cups)
1 Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (1x3 inches)
1 1.2 t. cider vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cooked meatballs if desired

Heat 1 T. of oil in a 4-5 quart pot over medium heat.  Add the first 4 ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally until the veggies begin to soften.  Add the tomato paste and garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add the broth, beans, kale, and cheese rind.   Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer until the veggies are tender, 15 minutes. Finally, stir the vinegar into the soup.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.   The soup is done if you are a vegetarian. 

My boys love meatballs - so I added 4 cooked meatballs to their bowls.  It added a nice flavor.


It has been two months since my last post.  The dinner experimentation has been continuing, but I have not found the time to create the blogs.  I have to say - I have also made quite a few dishes that do not deserve the honor of being posted.  I will have four posts this weekend and call myself halfway caught up.

The Sofrito recipe was handed down to my girlfriend by her host mother in Spain. It was common in dishes from the towns near the Mediterranean Sea.  I have made it in the past for Noah's baptism and dish to pass meals.  It serves many and is a crowd pleaser.  I used the Sazon-picante spice packet last night.  My boys thought it was too spicy, but put on a small amount to flavor their brown rice.  They followed the meals up with PB&J.  Next time I will use the regular Sazon spice and spice up our dishes individually.  However - I love the Sazon picante.  I can not take too much heat and this was perfect amount for me.  I would say is had medium heat.

Wikipedia- "Sofrito is a Spanish word referring to a culinary combination of aromatic ingredients which have been cut in very small pieces, and slowly (at least a quarter of an hour, but more usually half an hour) sauteed or braised in cooking oil. Within the context of Spanish cuisine, sofrito consists of garlic, onion, and tomatoes cooked in olive oil, and is used as the base for many dishes."


4lb. chicken cut into 8 pieces
salt and pepper to season
olive oil
1/2 T. oregano
1 14 oz. container frozen sofrito by Goya
1 jar Goya olives with anchovies (I used the ones with pimentos)
1 T. Vinegar
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 c. water
1/2 c. rum
3 bay leaves
4 small potatoes
1 envelope Sazon spice - picante or original

In a large stockpot or Dutch Oven heat the oil and brown the chicken. (I removed the skin of the chicken except for the wings and legs.  It adds flavor to the dish - but I try to keep the fat to a minimum.) Remove the fat if desired and add the rest of the ingredients.  Bring the Sofrito to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for one hour.  Let the Sofrito cool. 

Here comes the fun part.  Dig through the sofrito and remove the chicken pieces and parts.  (Bones and skin)  Use a forks to shred the chicken and return it to the sofrito.  Reheat and serve with rice.  Pairs nicely with salad.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Avgolemono Soup

I have several recipes to post.  Having time to make dinner for my family is not a problem - but keeping up with the blog means taking a break from my books in the evening.  It also means taking enough time to create sentences that all don't begin with "I".   My last few blogs were a rushed after dinner task, but I am going to try to change that.  I hope you will try the recipes in the next few posts.  The flavors are different from everyday life - but the recipes are approved from age 4 to 47. (Granted my boys are known to be a little more adventurous than the average family) Joe had 3 bowls of the soup recipe below.  He liked his picture in the salad dressing blog so much - he wanted to be included in this post too.  Fine by me:)

For years I have had many office lunches at Giorgio's in Montclair, VA.  I always order the same dishes -Avgolemono Soup and Mikonos Salad.  I have always wanted to make the soup myself, but an egg based soup seemed like something I could destroy easily.  This blog finally gave me the courage.  Imagine stirring 6 beaten egg yolks into a just boiling broth to create a rich thickness without making scrambled eggs.  Turns out, it was not so hard at all.  It was probably the least time consuming meals I made all week.  

Surprisingly, my boys loved the soup.  They both love tart lemon sorbet, so I was hoping that a lemon soup would fancy their taste buds, and it did.  Phew!  A strong lemon flavor at the front of the bite took me back the first time I tried Avgolemono Soup, but it was so different that the more I ate the more I liked the combination of flavors.

The restaurant soup was mostly the rich broth with a scant amount of rice and chicken.  I found a recipe that looked similar to the restaurant and then made it my own.  I decreased the amount of milk and exchanged orzo for rice.  I also added veggies and quite a bit of chicken to make the meal heartier.  6 egg yolks seems a little excessive, but think of it as 1 egg per serving.  The soup easily made 6-8 large servings. 

This could easily be a vegetarian dish with 2 minor changes.

Avgolemono Soup - Greek Egg- Lemon Soup

2 cooked chicken breasts

1 1/2 cups fat free milk
2 T. cornstarch
6 egg yolks, beaten

8 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup butter
1 onion chopped
3 celery sticks chopped

1 1/4 cups orzo
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 lemon peel finely grated
chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Chop 2 cooked chicken breasts into small bite sized pieces and set aside. (I used half of a small rotisserie chicken)

Whisk together the milk, cornstarch and egg yolks.  Set aside.

Place chicken stock in a large pot to boil then;
Chop the onion and celery.  Saute with butter in a skillet until tender.  Add pepper to taste.

When the stock begins to boil add the orzo and boil until the orzo is just tender.  (7-8 minutes)

Take the soup off the heat.  Add the milk and egg mixture and stir/whisk continuously and carefully until incorporated.  Return the pot to low heat and continue to stir until thickened.   Add the sauteed vegetables.

Remove from the heat again.  Add the chopped parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest, and and chicken.

Serve with a parsley garnish.  This dish is great paired with a Greek salad and warmed pita bread with Tzatziki Sauce.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Moroccan Chicken with Green Olives and Lemon

One more Moroccan recipe!  I could not help myself.  I love how cinnamon and ginger are mixed with other spices such as cumin or tumeric.  The added splash of an acid along with something salty or sweet makes all of the flavors pop.  I am moving onto Greece with my next blog recipe (avgolemeno soup), but last night we all enjoyed the chicken. 

Joe defiantly sat on the chair, cried, and refused to join us at the table because dinner looked disgusting. (The cinnamon gave the gravy a "dirty" look) Fortunaltely, I had blueberries to get him to the table and aside from the green olives, he loved the chicken.  Usually he breaks out the BBQ sauce when we have chicken, but tonight it stayed in the refrigerator.  The six of us polished off the entire chicken that was served with Garlic Brown Rice and Couscous and carrots.  Both tasted great with a little of the gravy.  Tim loves meat in general, and he gave this recipe along with the Brasato top reviews.

I accidently doubled the cinnamon and thought for sure the cinnamon would overpower the dish.  I was surprised that it did not. 

Next recipe: Avgolemeno Soup (lemon soup with chicken and rice)

Bon Appétit  | May 2009
by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen
yield: Makes 4 servings
active time: 25 minutes
total time: 55 minutes


  • 2 Meyer lemons or regular lemons
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 4 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, skin removed
  • 1/2 cup green olives
Cut 1 lemon into 8 wedges. Squeeze enough juice from second lemon to measure 2 tablespoons; set wedges and juice aside. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sprinkle with salt and pepper; sauté until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add next 5 ingredients; stir 1 minute. Add broth; bring to boil. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; add to skillet. Add lemon wedges. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, turning occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to platter. Add olives and 2 tablespoons lemon juice to skillet. Increase heat to high; boil uncovered to thicken slightly, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over chicken

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Marrakesh is a Moroccan restaurant in DC where I have celebrated 3 events with family and friends.  The restaurant serves an eight course meal where everyone is seated on pillows and dishes are served to the entire group on a platter eaten with our hands.  The B'Stella or Bastilla is my favorite.  I researched recipes last week and decided that this would be my next conquest even though I prepared a heavenly Moroccan lentil soup just 2 weeks ago.  I was taken aback with a 2 1/2 hour preparation time, but after researching several recipes and watching a video on, I made enough modifications to prepare the food in 1 hour.  (The day I have 2.5 hours to cook will be the day I take a nap :)  I love using recipes, but this time I combined several recipes that featured my favorite ingredients. 

What would I do differently?   First, don't talk on the phone while toasting the almonds.  I burnt 2 cups of almonds and had to send Tim out for more.  A few recipes featured parsley as the main herb, but I chose to go with my all time favorite cilantro.  One recipe called for a tablespoon of ginger and another one teaspoon.  I used a teaspoon and wished I had used more.  The final blunder came when our oven gave out after roasting my second batch of almonds.  Fortunately my neighbor and friend Marie allowed me to use her oven and saved the day.  Dinner was not served until 9PM and the boys had meatballs and canned corn for dinner, but alas, what can we do.  Life keeps on happening to all of us, Ay? 

This would be a great dish to prepare for friends on a special night.  Not exactly a typical Sunday evening dinner, but I did enjoy the anticipation of flavors from a fun evening many years ago.

Makes one 12" bastilla. Serves 4.

Prep Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours


  • 1 whole rotisserie chicken
  • 2 very large sweet white onions, chopped medium
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2  teaspoons white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (or 1/4 teaspoon Moroccan yellow colorant)
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 2 or 3 cinnamon sticks or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • --------------------------------------------------------------
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • --------------------------------------------------------------
  • 2 cups whole blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange flower water or 2 drops wild orange essential oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • --------------------------------------------------------------
  • 1/2 lb. phyllo dough
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • --------------------------------------------------------------
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons cinnamon


Mix  onion, spices, butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven.  (I went lighter on the butter and oil) Cover, and cook over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.  Be sure to stir the onions often and do not let the sauce burn as it will ruin the dish.  While the onions soften, cut up one rotisserie chicken into small pieces.  Add several spoonfuls of the onion mixture with the chicken to season and to help the chicken stay moist.  Set the chicken aside.

Cook the Egg Stuffing:
Transfer the remaining reduced onions and oil to a large non-stick skillet. Add the cilantro, and simmer for a minute or two. Add the beaten eggs, and cook as you would an omelet or scrambled eggs. Be patient, as it will take up to ten minutes for the eggs to set. Some oil separating from the eggs is OK. Set the egg stuffing aside.

Make the Almond Topping

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Bake the almonds on a cookie sheet until they have a rich color and an almond smell fills the house. 10 minutes.  When the almonds have cooled completely, pulse them in a food processor until finely ground. Put them in a mixing bowl, and with your hands work in the powdered sugar, orange flower water (I used 2 drops of wild orange essential oil), and tablespoon of butter. Set aside.

Assemble the Bastilla

Generously oil a 14" or larger round pan. If you don't have a round pan, work on an oiled flat baking sheet or large plate, and shape a circular pie as best you can.
Brush melted butter on each sheet of phyllo dough as you work. If using phyllo, take care to keep it covered with plastic as you work since it dries out very quickly.
Using your pan as a guide, overlap double layers of phyllo dough – in a circular fashion, so that the inner halves of the pastry dough overlap in the center, and the excess dough drapes over the edges of the pan. (Remember to butter each layer of dough.)
Place two 12" buttered circles of phyllo, in the center of the pan. (I just used a piece of phyllo folded in half) This forms the bottom of the pie.
Cover the 12" circle with the chicken filling, and distribute the egg stuffing over the chicken.
Top the egg stuffing with another buttered 12" circle of warqa (shiny side up), or two 12" buttered circles of phyllo. Spread the almond topping over this layer of dough.
Fold the excess dough up and over the almonds to enclose the pie. Flatten and smooth any bulky areas.
Brush butter on the folded edges of dough, and top with three more overlapping layers of phyllo, brushing butter on each layer. Fold down the edges of dough and carefully tuck them underneath the pie, molding and shaping the bastilla as you go.
Brush the egg yolk over the top and sides of the pie. Lightly oil the bastilla in the same manner.

The bastilla is now ready for baking. It can be covered in plastic and stored in the refrigerator for up to a day, or in the freezer for up to two months.

Bake the Bastilla

Preheat an oven to 350° F (180° C). Place the bastilla on an oiled flat baking sheet in the middle of the oven, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Note that a bastilla placed into the oven directly from the freezer will take up to an hour to bake.

Garnish and Serve

Generously coat the bastilla with sifted powdered sugar. Sift the cinnamon on top of the sugar, or use the cinnamon to decorate the top of the pie.
Serve immediately.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Red Wine Brasato with Glazed Root Vegetables

The snow has fallen and this Mama is ready to prepare a little comfort food.  Who doesn't love a red wine reduction!  A whole bottle of red reduced down to a cup and roasted with beef for hours. 
 I noticed a trend in this blog.  I have prepared dished from Tibet, Morocco, Thailand, and now Italy.  Perhaps I am going to continue a trek around the globe with my foods - although I would love to take on Morocco for the next several weeks.  I have 8 more pages that I can play around with on the blog.  I could go by continents or by food categories.  We shall see what happens. 
For now, if you love a good beef roast - this will turn a regular roast into a black tie affair.  The celery root is a beloved veggie in this house.  So much better than celery.

Bon Appétit |  February 2007
yield: Makes 6 servings (plus leftovers)
Brasato (which means "braised" in Italian) is the ultimate pot roast.

  • 1 750-ml bottle hearty red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, or Syrah)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 3-pound beef chuck pot roasts
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large celery stalk, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
  • 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 14-ounce can beef broth
  • 2 large sprigs fresh sage
  • 2 large sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (1-pound) celery root (celeriac), peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound turnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


For brasato:
Adjust rack to lower third of oven. Preheat to 300°F. Simmer wine in large saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 1 cup, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in heavy large wide pot over medium heat. Sprinkle roasts with salt and pepper. Add 1 roast to pot and cook until brown on all sides, about 13 minutes. Transfer to large plate; repeat with remaining roast. Spoon fat from pot Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to pot. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. sauté over medium-high heat until vegetables begin to brown, about 6 minutes. Add tomato paste; stir 1 minute. Add broth; bring to boil. Add sage, parsley, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Return roasts and any accumulated juices to pot, tucking roasts to fit in single layer. Pour reduced red wine over; cover.
Transfer roasts to oven and braise 1 hour 15 minutes. Turn roasts over. Cover and braise until roasts are tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes longer. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cool, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm in 350°F oven until heated through, about 30 minutes.
Transfer roasts to cutting board; tent with foil. Strain braising liquid into medium saucepan, pressing on solids in strainer. Spoon fat from surface of braising liquid; keep liquid warm.
For vegetables:
Melt butter with oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add celery root, turnips, and carrots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. sauté until browned in spots, about 8 minutes. Add 1 cup braising liquid from pot roast. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to high, and bring to boil. Stir in sugar. Add sage and parsley and cook until sauce is reduced to glaze, stirring often, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Cut roasts into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices on platter. Spoon vegetables around roast. Drizzle some of braising liquid over meat and serve.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Moosewood Restaurant's House Salad Dressing

My sons love this dressing and I feel great giving it to them to dip fresh veggies or for salad dressing.  I LOVE how my boys love their salads.  No more Ranch dressing for this house!

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend for a minute.

1/2 cup canola oil
1 T. lemon juice - I add a bit more
1 t. honey
handful of spinach leaves (about 8)
handful of basil leaves (about 8)
2 T. fresh parsley
1/4-1/2 t. salt
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup fat free buttermilk

This will last 7-10 days in the refrigerator.  It lasts 2 meals in our family.