Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Simple Squash Curry Soup

Simple title, simple picture, simple recipe. Enjoy!


One pumpkin, kabocha, butternut, or other kind of squash
3 carrots
3 celery stalks
2 onions
2-4 cloves garlic
1-2 hot peppers
1 tsp each of: turmeric, cardamom, cumin, pepper, paprika, salt, ginger, cinnamon
1 can of coconut milk
(garnish with thick yogurt, sriracha sauce, and pepitas/pumpkin seeds)


Halve the squash, remove the seeds and pulp, and roast (innard-side down) on a lightly-oiled baking dish until soft. (you can roast the cleaned-off seeds in a roasting pan seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, and either sweet or savory spices afterward).

Scoop out the soft squash and set aside.

Roughly chop the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and de-seeded pepper(s). Saute in a cast iron pan in olive oil. Add spices, which will appear to sear a bit. The scent it gives off will tell you it's curry-ing.

Once the curry has curry'd, add the squash and sautee for a few moments so that the squash sops up the spices. Add coconut milk and simmer--do not boil--for about 10 minutes.

Allow the mixture to cool.

Depending on how you like your soup, eat as is, or blend until the mixture achieves your desired level of smoothness.

Garnish. Serve to someone you love.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dreamy Herbed Pizza

I'm not a fan of NY-style pizza: greasy slices of soggy crust with sliding-off cheese, bland tomato sauce, dotted with pepperoni. But homemade pizza, that's another story. This is the best recipe for pizza dough that I've tried, and it derives from Ms. Martha Stewart; except Ms. Stewart doesn't jazz it up with herbs like I do.

Don't be shy with the herbs--it will look like a lot when you dump them in, but you'll be glad you did.

Best Herbed Pizza Crust

1 1/2 cup warm water
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp sea salt
3 cups white flour
1 cup wheat flour
4 tbsp chopped herbs (thyme, rosemary, chives, parsley, oregano)
some flour for the surface
spray olive oil

Suggested toppings:

thinly sliced sausage
carmelized onion
basil pesto
mozarella cheese

Stir honey into the warm water and sprinkle with yeast. Let it get foamy (about 5 minutes). Mix flour with salt in a mixer. After the yeast mixture is foamy, whisk in the olive oil.  Pour the wet mixture into the flour mixture, and mix just until the dough begins to stick together. Add in the herbs until the dough is sticky but holds together and the herbs are well distributed. Place the dough ball in an oiled bowl and turn around so all sides are slick with oil. Spray oil the top and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for an hour. Cut in half (or third if you like thin pizza) and shape into a round (or a rectangle, depending on the shape of your pan) and place on a hot, oiled pizza stone or cast iron pizza pan. Decorate! Pop it into the oven at 400 degrees F until the cheese is melted. Slide off onto a cutting board; cut into slices and enjoy!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Herb Your Enthusiasm

We inherited the most beautiful garden that anyone could ever ask for when we moved from Brooklyn to Troy, New York. But with such a garden comes immense responsibility. This past weekend, I found the herbs in the garden to be tremendously overgrown, with some in danger of going to seed. So I had to take swift action. I pruned all of the herbs and made lots of herbed butter, added dill to pickled beets, and I made a quiche that's a real keeper.

I remember friends in London making a pie-like dinner once with what seemed like an ethereal ease. I've always struggled with crusts, so whenever I watch someone make a crust and transfer it to a pie pan, I am in awe. So I messaged my UK friends and got the recipe: flour, butter, salt, cold water. Then I looked around for a recipe for the rest. I didn't want to have to go to the grocery store, so I just looked around for what I had in the house: smoked chicken sausage in the freezer, a lone yam, some garlic cloves, red onion, and a ton of broccoli leaves from my overripe broccoli plants.
 I followed this terrifically handy recipe: a mix & match quiche formula that turned out great.

And, D loved it. Because real men eat quiche, and love it.

Sausage, Greens & Yam Quiche in Herbed Crust

1 cup flour
5 tbsp butter
3 tbsp finely chopped herbs
1 tsp salt
5 tbsp ice water
1 egg
3 sausages
1/2 small-to-medium sized yam
2 cups of chopped greens (I used fresh broccoli leaves)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
salt & pepper to taste

At some point during this process, roast your yam. You can also use roasted garlic instead of sauteeing it as below.

Combine the flour with the butter and salt, either in a food processor or by hand until the flour and butter have combined into little lumps. Add in chopped herbs and ice water a little bit at a time until the dough begins to form into a ball. Refrigerate in a ball for 1/2 hour. When it's chilled, roll out the dough to fit a 9" pie shell. Fit into a pie pan and pinch the edges. Brush with beaten egg wash. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. Set aside.

Saute garlic and red onion in a cast iron pan. Add diced sausage until cooked through (you can dice before you cook the sausage, or after) and then add the chopped greens. When fully cooked, add diced roasted yam. Allow the mixture to thoroughly cool, and then add 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella.

Place about 1 1/2 - 2 cups of the sausage/veggie/cheese mixture into the pie shell.

Whisk the eggs & milk with salt & pepper to taste, and pour over the vegetables in the pie shell.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees; the egg mixture custard will appear to be too liquidy well into that 45 minutes but be patient. The last 10 minutes will see your custard rise a bit and then solidify. When the center stops jiggling and begins to brown just a touch, it's ready. Let sit for 5-10 minutes after you take it out of the oven and before you cut it. The puffy custard will settle down when it's ready to cut.

Enjoy with a side salad or all by itself!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Herby Cheesy Pizza

I've been experi-menting a lot with pizza doughs lately. The mush-rooms at the Troy Farmer's Market have really been the inspiration. Sunday nights have become pizza night in our house, and each one has been a little different. This dough is a keeper, although the original recipe didn't have salt or pepper, which made it a bit blander than I would have liked.

Rosemary Parmesan Pizza Dough

1 tsp dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/2 tsp honey
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
optional: diced garlic, crushed red pepper

Stir together warm water and honey, add 1 tsp of yeast and let sit until frothy. In a mixer with a dough hook (or you can do this with your hands) mix together flour, olive oil, water/yeast mixture. add tosemary, cheese and seasonings. When all of the ingredients have come together to form a ball, knead for about 5 minutes. Place the dough ball in a greased bowl and cover with a clean dish towel until doubled. Form your crust, and freeze the leftover dough for the next time.

Top your pizza with whatever you like. We topped ours with some red sauce, mozzarella cheese, sliced mushrooms, garlic, leftover sausage, black olives, and some spinach from our garden. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Boozy Banana Muffins

I'm on a muffin tear. Maybe it's because I recently acquired a beautiful muffin tin from a foray to the Bennington Pottery Outlet, just 20 minutes from our house. Two recent happenings led to these muffins: leftover chopped ginger-pecan from our Easter ham, and a surplus of bananas from our 4th anniversary gifts. (Traditional gifts for a 4th wedding anniversary are fruits and vegetables, and my husband and I each bought each other a bunch of bananas! What a bunch of monkeys.) I hope you enjoy them.

 Ginger Pecan Whiskey Banana Muffins

2 mashed rip bananas
2 tbsp vegetable oil or light olive oil
1 egg
1/2 cup whiskey
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup crystallized ginger
1/4 cup toasted pecans
cooking spray

Mix together in a small bowl the bananas, oil, egg, whiskey, and vanilla. You can use this right away, but I recommend setting it aside for up to 10 hours before mixing it in with the dry ingredients to allow the banana to steep in the whiskey.

While that's happening, chop together in a mini-chopper crystallized (or candied) ginger with toasted pecans and set aside for the topping.

Sift together the dry ingredients. When you're ready to make your muffins, pour the melted butter into the dry ingredients and mix to wet. Then add the marinated banana mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until well mixed. Spray nine muffin cups and fill each 3/4 of the way to the top; top with your ginger-pecan mixture and bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Bangers and Mash Muffins

It's a busy St. Patrick's Day week and while we've been guests to four different corned-beef-and-cabbage dinners, we weren't able to do our own this year. I can't let a holiday pass without some culinary contributions of my own, so this year, I made a crazy soda bread with sunflower seeds, as well as a new creation all my own: Bangers and Mash Muffins.

The soda bread is easy enough if you have all of the ingredients. As a guest at a gathering last night  who doesn't see much bread beyond store-bought white described it: hearty. This year, I added currants to my old Shamrock Soda Bread recipe and it is delicious.

I picked up a large "banger" sausage from the meat counter at the Albany Food Co-op last week, but we never had the time to do anything with it. Facing a pre-7 am start to St. Pat's Day, I decided to pre-make some Irish-themed egg muffins the night before. Pop them in your oven 20 minutes before you leave the house, and you have a hot, tasty meal right in your paws.

Bangers and Mash Muffins

6-cup muffin pan
6 eggs
1 pork sausage ("banger")
1 medium onion, diced
2 small red potatoes, boiled and diced
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Boil the red potatoes until tender and cut into small pieces. Saute the diced onion and boiled cut potatoes in a little bit of olive oil. Fry the banger and cut in small pieces. Add to the chopped onion and potato and mix well. Whisk six eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Spray or coat the muffin cups with olive oil. Evenly divide the eggs into the muffin cups. Sprinkle a pinch of cheddar cheese in each muffin cup, into the eggs, leaving some cheddar for the tops of the muffins. Evenly distribute a spoonful of the sausage-onion-potato mixture into each of the cups, into the eggs on top of the cheese. Top each muffin with a pinch of cheese. You can cover this and pop into the fridge the night before so that you can remove it and heat it in the oven the next morning, or you can make it right away. 350 Farenheit for about 15-20 minutes.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Different Dip

When we lived in Park Slope, invitations to pot luck parties were always accom-panied by: "please bring something other than hummous!" People often commented on gatherings at the Prospect Park bandshell by saying: "I wonder how many pounds of hummous are in this park tonite?" Have you experienced this? Just too much hummous in your life? If you have, I have a remedy for you.


It's a roasted red pepper, toasted walnut, pomegranate, and garlic dip. And you will love it.

I first tried it at one of my favorite Brooklyn restaurants, Tanoreen. (Rawia Bishara, the owner and chef at Tanoreen, actually has a new cookbook coming out on Feb. 8th. Can't wait to see if she has a recipe for this dish). There are a bunch of different recipes, but you can't trust any that don't have enough garlic or pomegranate molasses--an ingredient that may be hard to find, but is absolutely essential and makes the dish. I've often wondered if you can make a substitute by creating a simple syrup with pomegranate juice, but I haven't tried it yet. This is one I adapted from an Epicurious recipe.


7-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted lightly and chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice, or to taste
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses (or more)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Serve with warm toasted pita triangles and vegetables.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Tasty Croutons

It's my mother-in-law's 80th birthday and there's a surprise party for her back in the city. Everybody's bringing something tasty, and we've been asked to bring a caesar salad. If you can't swing everything from scratch, at least don't scrimp on the croutons. These are fantastic. I adapted the recipe from one I found on Epicurious

Garlic-Parmesan Herbed Croutons

2 large garlic cloves, chopped small
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ cup olive oil
4 tbsp butter
1 loaf of nice bread, cut into crouton-sized cubes
4 tbsp finely grated parmesan

Preheat your oven to 350. In a small saucepan combine the garlic, the oregano, the basil, the thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, the pepper, butter and the oil and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. In a large bowl toss the bread cubes with the oil mixture, spread them in a jelly-roll pan, and bake them in the middle of the oven for 8 minutes. Sprinkle the croutons with the Parmesan and bake them for 7 minutes more, or until they are golden. Let them cool before storing in an airtight container until you're ready to serve them. They're great on soup or salad.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Peeking Pear Breakfast Bread

D and I recently moved from Brooklyn, New York to a small city called Troy 15 miles north of Albany. We were supremely lucky to find an amazing Victorian house that's over 100 years old--perfect for hosting and entertaining guests. We had a wonderful housewarming party with our new neighbors and friends shortly after we moved in, but the first big event was a sleepover with 12 friends from the city, our annual post-holiday reGifting party.  

In addition to scaling up the amenities, I wanted to surprise my guests with a fun breakfast treat, and saw a recipe for a poached, whole-pear bread in Cooking Light magazine. I made the batter before my guests arrived the night before, and then, as everyone was heading off to bed, I poached the pears and baked the bread. Some curious friends stayed behind to see how it turned out.

Peeking Pear Maple Stout Breakfast Bread

1 3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp softened butter 
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla 
1/2 cup stout beer
1/2 cup vanilla or plain yogurt
5 tbsp maple syrup
3 pears
1/2 cup sugar 
3 cups water

Heat three cups of water with 1/2 cup sugar, stirring to dissolve. Add in the pears, whole with the stems, to poach for about 8 minutes or until tender. Remove from the water. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat sugar and eggs in a mixer; add eggs one at a time. Add the rest of the wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients and then add to the wet a little at a time. 

Lightly dust the pears with flour and cut the bottoms off of the pears so that they sit evenly in a greased loaf pan. Pour the batter around the pears so that the batter is evenly distributed. Rinse the remaining flour from the stems. Pop in the oven for about 45 minutes, but monitor to see when the bread has risen, the sides come away from the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Remove from the baking pan to a cutting board and slice decoratively to show the pear slices. Serve with good coffee. Bask in the compliments. 

  I just had to share this last picture. As the light was coming into the kitchen window, it shone through a pear slice like a stained glass window. Beautiful.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year Oats!

Bringing in the New Year with a steaming hot bowl of oatmeal for breakfast at 1 pm was good and nice.

2013 was a big year for me: From January 2013, I was involved in a 6-month intensive campaign to pass important women's rights legislation that fell victim to ugly state capital politics; D and I moved from our small but wonderful Brooklyn apartment to a big beautiful house in Troy, New York; and just as we were getting settled, my father became very ill and passed away a few days after Christmas.

So for 2014, I am wishing for some simple things: Peace for my mother, time for calm and quiet and watching birds, the joy of friendship, and contemplative expression.

D and I drove five hours back home to Troy on New Years Eve to take care of some business before heading back to PA for my father's funeral, so we were on the road at midnight, and then got some much-needed sleep.

There wasn't much in the way of fresh food in the house, but all you need are some staples to have a healthy and tasty breakfast. The basic recipe is below; this morning, we used turbinado sugar, chopped pecans, and dried blueberries.

Stovetop Oatmeal

1 cup rolled oats
3 cups water
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sweet (any kind of granulated sugar; honey, or syrup)
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup dried or fresh fruit
1 tsp cinnamon

Bring water and salt to a boil on your stovetop. Add the oats and stir. Then add in the nuts and the cinnamon. Stir over the heat until the oatmeal is a desired consistency. Add water as needed. Enjoy!