Monday, June 9, 2014

Kettle Corn

I don't know what has happened to the spring.  It has been very busy with the end of school, lots of visitors and busy work schedules.  But today has been a nice day....we haven't once been in the car, I cleaned the house in one go and the kids and I made kettle corn to eat while we watched Horton Hears a Who.

The original recipe calls for 14 cup sugar, however, I find it a little bit sweet.  I cut the sugar to an 18 , but if you want it to be more like traditional kettle corn use 14 cup.


14 cup vegetable oil
12 cup popcorn kernels
18 cup sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt

In a large pot, with a tight-fitting lid, add the oil and popcorn. When the oils sizzles, sprinkle the sugar over the kernels. Cover and shake the pan until the popping slows down. Remove from the heat and toss with the salt. 

Makes enough for 4 servings.

Recipe adapted from Rachel Ray's, EveryDay.  

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


The other day we found fattoush.  R and I went to Cicchetti to celebrate my birthday and the waitress suggested the fattoush salad.  It was delicious - very light and refreshing.  When we got home we looked for some recipes and found about a hundred different variations.  Basically, raw vegetables make the base for the salad with bits of toasted or fried pita served on top.  I started with Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's version from, Jerusalem, and then changed it up slightly to try to make it closer to the one we had at dinner. The dressing for this salad is amazing, it's so fresh and clean -  I don't even miss the cheese!  And the best part - the kids like it.  They get a pita taco, basically a quarter of a pita folded over the salad.  They even eat the lettuce!

for the Greek yogurt sauce:

1 cup Greek yogurt
34 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk

Whisk the yogurt and milk in a bowl and leave in the fridge until bubbles form on the surface.  Let it sit for at least 3 hours or up to a day. 

for the dressing:

1 tablespoon dried mint 
2 cloves garlic, crushed 
3 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 
14 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon cider or white wine vinegar 
12 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste 
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, plus more to taste 
1 tablespoon sumac

Combine all the ingredients in a medium sized mason jar.  Shake until well combined.  

*Note: any extra dressing will keep in the refrigerator for several days

for the salad:

3 large tomatoes, diced 
4-5 radishes, thinly sliced
12-1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
12 red (or orange) bell pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced 
1 tablespoon fresh mint, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped 
12 head of romaine
sumac to garnish

Cook the pita breads.  When cool enough to handle cut them into bite sized pieces and set aside. Assemble the salad and add the dressing to taste.

Divide the pita pieces among 6 plates.  Drizzle the yogurt sauce on top of the bread.  Place the salad on top of the pita and garnish with sumac.  Enjoy!

Serves 6

Recipe adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's, Jerusalem

Friday, April 4, 2014

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

The first time I had this soup I wasn't a huge fan, but it was easy and healthy so I made it again.  The second time around I really enjoyed it - it is delicious and very clean tasting.  We serve it with a big salad and some naan or pita bread.


3 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of ground chili powder or cayenne, more to taste
1 quart vegetable stock
1 cup red lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro.

In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot. Add the onion and garlic.  Sauté until golden - about 4 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.

Add stock, 2 cups water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.
Using an immersion blender, purée half the soup then add it back to pot. Soup should be somewhat chunky.

Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired.

Serves 4

From the New York Times , 01/09/2008

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Caesar Salad with Croutons

This is our Saturday pizza night salad.  It's clean, refreshing and goes great with pizza.  My husband makes the dressing with olive oil, vinegar, and garlic.  The croutons are optional and we don't make them all the time, but they are delicious!

for the croutons:

Good quality bread, about 2 cups cubed
olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Place the bread cubes on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and mix to lightly coat the bread cubes.  Add garlic, salt and pepper and mix again.  Spread the bread in a single layer on the sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crunchy.

for the dressing:

4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
12 Tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

for the salad:
12 head of romaine, chopped
cherry tomatoes, halved or quarted
parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper

Mix the salad ingredients together in a salad bowl.  Add the croutons and toss with the dressing. Serve immediately.

Serves 2 large servings or 4 small

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Salmon Chowder

We've eaten this chowder twice since Christmas Eve and every time I forget to take a picture.  On this occasion I remembered to take a picture the day after when we were eating the leftovers for lunch. It doesn't do the chowder justice

This is one of those soups that is 1. delicious 2. easy to make and can be mostly made ahead and 3. works for when you need a nice dinner, but don't have a lot of time to cook.  It's a lighter chowder so it won't leave you feeling super heavy and overloaded with milk and cream when you are finished. We've made it for Christmas Eve several years in a row now and everyone loves it! 

Salmon Chowder
Serves: 6

1 14 pounds salmon
kosher salt
brown sugar
wood chips
16 oz frozen corn
4 slices good quality bacon
1 medium onion, diced
34 cup dry white wine
2 cups fish stock
2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 12 teaspoon dried
tabasco sauce
5 medium red potatoes, washed and diced
1 cup whipping cream
2 cups milk (2%)
14 cup fresh chives, minced

For the salmon: Rub the salmon with some kosher salt and brown sugar (there is no magic amount, but you want the salmon to be covered with brown sugar and salt).  Soak the wood chips in water and start the BBQ.  Once the BBQ is nice and hot add the wood chips (we wrap ours in a tin foil pack and place it on the coals).  Cook the salmon until just barely finished (or a little under done) - it will finish cooking in the soup.  When the salmon is cool enough to handle break it into small pieces.  Place the salmon in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the chowder: In a dutch oven or large stock pot cook the bacon, over medium heat, until cooked all the way through.  Remove the bacon and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels.  Pour off some of the grease until you have a thin layer left in the pan. Add the onion and cook until soft, but not browning, about 5-7 minutes. Add the wine and boil over medium heat-high heat until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.  Add the fish stock, thyme and a dash of tabasco.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the potatoes, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender when pierced with a fork, about 8 minutes. Add the corn, salmon, cream and milk (Be careful not to boil the chowder once you've added the milk or it might curdle) .  Cook until the corn is almost tender, but still crunchy, about 3-5 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately, garnished with bacon and chives.

Note: smoking the salmon on the BBQ is preferred, but if you are pressed for time or don't have a BBQ baking the salmon in the oven is fine.

To make ahead: Prepare the salmon per directions above.  You can make the chowder several hours ahead up to the point of adding the corn, salmon, cream and milk.  Do this last step right before you are ready to serve.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Falafel, Pita and a Salad

Lately, we have been making a lot of simple salads and putting them on top of homemade pita bread (store bought pita doesn't even come close).  We top the salad with falafel and tzatziki.  It is delicious!

The falafel recipe is from Yotam Ottolenghi.  We have his book, Plenty, which does not have a falafel recipe, but I figured he must have one.  He does.  And we made it.  It is amazing!  

The falafel.  It looks so perfect and delicious.

The pita, falafel, tzatziki salad

for the pita bread:

1 Tablespoon honey 
2 teaspoon active dry yeast 
1534 oz. (312 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more as needed 
212 oz. (12 cup) whole-wheat flour 
112 teaspoon kosher salt 
112 cups lukewarm water, divided
2 Tablespoons olive oil; more for the bowl

In a small bowl, mix the honey with 12 cup lukewarm water and stir in the yeast. Let sit until the yeast has started to foam, 2 to 3 minutes.

Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  On low speed, mix in the olive oil until fully incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add the yeast mixture and 1 cup lukewarm water and mix until fully incorporated, 2 to 3 minutes more. Raise the speed to medium and knead the dough until it comes away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball that is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky, 4 to 5 minutes. If the dough seems too wet, add more all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon at a time. Raise the speed to medium high and continue to knead for 5 minutes. 

Oil a medium bowl, transfer the dough to the bowl, and roll to coat it with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead two or three times to remove any air bubbles.  Roll the dough into a log and divide it evenly into 10 pieces.  Form each piece into a ball (at this point you can freeze what you aren't ready to use.  Just wrap each ball tightly in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag.  When you are ready to use the dough bring it to room temperature and continue with the directions) and then roll into disks about 14 inch thick and 6 inches in diameter.  Lightly oil two rimmed baking sheets.  Put the disks on the baking sheets, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until just doubled in thickness, 30 to 45 minutes.  Prepare a medium-high gas grill fire, leaving one burner off, or prepare a charcoal fire with a hot zone and cool zone by pushing the coals to one side of the grill. Brush a cast-iron griddle or skillet lightly with olive oil and put it on the grill over the cool zone. (This can also be done on your stove top) When very hot, cook the pitas in batches on the griddle until starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until lightly golden on the bottom and the pitas are cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more.  Cool on a wire rack.  If stuffing, cut the pitas in half and carefully separate the layers with a fork.

Makes 10 pitas.  Recipe by Mary Karlin, "Grilled Pita Bread", Fine Cooking, Issue 105

for the falafel:

114 cups dried chickpeas
12 medium onion, finely chopped (12 cup in total)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
14 teaspoon cayenne pepper
12 teaspoon ground cumin
12 teaspoon ground coriander
12 teaspoon ground cardamom
12 teaspoon baking powder
3 Tablespoon water
112 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
About 3 cups sunflower (or vegetable) oil, for frying
12 teaspoon sesame seeds, for coating
Salt to taste

Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water at least twice their volume. Set aside to soak overnight.

The next day, drain the chickpeas well and combine them with the onion, garlic, parsley and cilantro. Pulse the mix in batches, pulsing each for 30 to 40 seconds, until it is finely chopped and holds itself together. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the spices, baking powder, 34 teaspoon salt, flour and water. Mix well by hand until smooth and uniform. Cover the mixture and leave it in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or until ready to use.

Fill a deep, heavy-bottomed medium saucepan with enough oil to come 234 inches up the sides of the pan. Heat the oil to 350°F.

With wet hands, press 1 tablespoon of the mixture in the palm of your hand to form a patty or a ball the size of a small walnut.

Sprinkle the balls evenly with sesame seeds and deep-fry them in batches for 4 minutes, until well browned and cooked through. It is important they really dry out the inside, so make sure they get enough time in the oil. Drain in a colander lined with paper towels and serve at once.

Serves 4: Makes about 20 balls
Recipe from Jerusalem: A Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi

for the tzatziki:

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded grated or finely chopped
2 cups plain, whole-milk, greek yogurt
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lemon, juiced
18 cup dried dill, more if desired - just add it in slowly
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl combine the cucumber, yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and dill.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. This can be made a few hours ahead - just cover and refrigerate. 

Adapted from Bobby Flay's, Boy Gets Grill, Cucumber-Yogurt Salad and Toasted Walnuts

for the salads:

pita bread
romaine, chopped
tomatoes, chopped
onions, chopped
cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
tzatziki sauce
feta, if desired

Start with a pita bread.  Pile on romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, onions and garlic.  Add falafel (about 4/person), the tzatziki and feta.  Drizzle with some good olive oil.  

Enjoy and if you are actually able to pick it up, as my husband says, "don't break the grip"!  

Sunday, February 2, 2014


My aunt gave me some recipes for a shower that she gave me for my wedding.  One of those recipes was for these mojitos.  They are almost a little too delicious!  And very easy to drink!


3 sprigs mint 

1/2 lime 
1/2 cup lime simple syrup, recipe below 
1-1/2 shots light rum 
splash of club soda 
mint and lime for garnish 

Simple Syrup ingredients: 

3/4 cup fresh lime juice 
1/4 cup water 
1 cup superfine sugar

For the simple syrup.  Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to boil and boil for 2 minutes. cool.

Divide the mint and lime among the glasses and muddle. (My aunt gave me a wooden muddler, but you could use the end of a wooden spoon to break up the mint and lime).  Add the simple syrup, rum, club soda and a few ice cubes. Garnish with lime and mint.

Serves 4

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Herb Fried Chicken

My husband's favorite birthday dinner is always herb fried chicken, a childhood favorite, and this year was no exception.  The chicken stays nice and moist and we only pan-fry the chicken and then finish it in the oven so it's not too greasy.  It sounds like a lot of work but it is actually very easy and a definite crowd pleaser.  


6 chicken breasts, pounded
eggs, start with 2 and add more as needed
12 cup beer
2 cups flour
12 cup oats
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
14 cup parsley, finely chopped
6-8 sprigs fresh sage
1 sprig fresh rosemary
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
5-6 fresh basil leaves
canola oil

Heat the oven to 425°F.  Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet and set aside. 

Combine, flour, oats, spices and herbs in a food processor.  Pulse until to mix and break up oats and herbs (you still want to see them).  Set aside.

Mix eggs and beer and place in a shallow dish.

In a deep sauté pan pour in the canola oil so that there is about 1 inch of oil.  Heat the oil on medium high heat until the oil is hot, about 325°F.

Dip the chicken pieces in the egg/beer batter and then dredge through the flour mixture.  Shake off any excess.  

Place the floured chicken pieces in the hot oil (make sure to leave space between them - you can fry in batches if neccessary) and pan fry until golden brown on the bottom (about 5-7 minutes).  Flip and fry on the other side until golden brown.  (you will need to adjust the heat as you go along so they don't start to burn).  Once both sides are golden place the chicken on the cooling rack/baking sheet and place them in the oven until cooked through.  The easiest way is to check with a meat thermometer (your thermometer should tell you what temperature your chicken should be at).

Serve immediately!

Serves 6

R's mom's versions of Herb Fried Chicken, adapted from, Lynn Alley's, "COOKING WITH FRESH HERBS"

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Artichokes and Garlic Olive Oil

Artichokes are one of those winter vegetables that we love.  The kids gobble them up so fast that we have to watch them to make sure they aren't eating the whole leaf!  We steam them until the leaves are tender (or for a real treat we partially steam them, cut them in half and finish them off on the BBQ!) and then we dip them in garlic olive oil! 


Steam until tender (about 40 minutes)

Garlic Olive Oil:

Good olive oil
sea salt
several cloves of garlic (more or less depending on how much garlic you like)

Fill a ramekin with some olive oil (about 1/4 of a cup).  Minch several garlic cloves and add them to the oil.  Add a pinch (or 2) of salt, to taste.