Tag Archives: Cook

Friday Fixings: Week 3: Miso Glazed Bass

buffet at school

Friday Fixing: Week 3: Miso Glazed Sea Bass

When coming up with this week’s Friday Fixing, I tried to think of a recipe that I have made a handful of times. Bon Appetit published a recipe for Miso Glazed Sea Bass back in 2000, which I only first tried this year but enjoyed enough to make a few times for friends.

This marinade is sweet, salty and strong, which is why it is best used with a heartier fish, like Chilean Sea Bass or Black Cod (which is a cheaper and sustainable alternative to Chilean Sea Bass).

My favorite side dish with this recipe has been Heidi Swanson’s Otsu noodles (I leave out the tofu when I am preparing it as a side dish). I like pairing something simple, and slightly vinegary and acidic with the fish, which is on the sweeter side. However, there are many side dishes which would work well. Here are a few ideas.

Happy Cooking,

Friday Fixing: Week 3

Entrée: Miso Glazed Sea Bass

Suggested Fixings


Friday Fixings: Week 2: Chicken Saltimbocca

buffet at school

Hi there! For this week’s Friday Fixings post (see this post for background information), I’ve selected chicken saltimbocca, purely because I happen to be making chicken saltimbocca tonight for friends. In Italian, saltimbocca means “jump in the mouth”. Saltimbocca alla Romana is traditionally made by topping a veal cutlet with sage and prosciutto, but chicken is commonly substituted. Some recipes call for no sauce, others call for making a simple pan sauce with marsala wine, lemon, or chicken broth. I personally like to make a quick pan sauce using lemon juice and chicken broth. As I learned in culinary school, acid, salt, and fat are important components in a well-rounded dish. In this case, the lemon adds acidity, while the prosciutto provides the perfect ratio of salt and fat. The sage ads fragrance and an additional layer of flavor, don’t skip it and don’t buy dried sage, it’s my favorite part.

I most often pair chicken saltimbocca with soft polenta, but tonight I am making Deb Perelman’s Wild Rice Gratin with Kale and Caramelized Onions, from her cookbook, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Because chicken saltimbocca incorporates only a few ingredients (chicken, sage, and prosciutto) I believe that it can go well with a number of different side dishes. For example, roasted potatoes, orzo, mashed potatoes, grits, etc. etc. The list below are a few sides dishes that I found this week that stand out to me. Enjoy!

Friday Fixing: Week 2

Entree: Chicken saltimbocca (an example recipe from Epicurious here)

Suggested Fixings:

  • Soft Polenta (this no-stir oven-baked recipe is genius!)
  • Cooked orzo pasta with a dab of butter and a generous handful of parmigiano reggiano cheese thrown in at the end
  • Simple roasted potatoes
  • Ratatouille (Jacques Pepin recipe)
  • Rice pilaf with saffron (example recipe here)

Braised Chicken Thighs with Sauerkraut, Riesling, Apple and Bacon

Braised Chicken with Cabbage

Did I make it in time for the Super Bowl this weekend?! This may not be your typical Super Bowl fare, but I think that it meets the requirements. It’s a one-pot meal and it goes well with beer. What more could you ask for? Oh, bacon you say?… Don’t worry, that’s included too!

One of our favorite neighborhood restaurants in the city is Café D’Alsace. Dishes like charcroute garnie, duck sausage with sauerkraut, and tarte flambee are mainstays on the menu.  It must be cold in Alsace, because the food here is hearty, rich, and meat-heavy. With temperatures barely reaching 20 degrees in New York last week, it’s exactly the sort of food that I was craving.  However, bitterly cold temperatures also make me want to hibernate, so I decided to satisfy both my desire to stay out of the cold with my yearning for sauerkraut.

2 photos

Enter chicken braised in sauerkraut! I was so excited to make this recipe, especially after I found large hunks of meaty bacon and sauerkraut at my local German grocer (Schaller & Weber for those of you who live in New York City). I started by slowly sautéing the bacon in a pan, allowing the fat to render out and the bacon to become slightly crispy. I debated pouring some of the fat out of the pan, but there wasn’t too much, and I figured that we could use a little bit of extra blubber to fend off the cold this winter. To the bacon, I added thin slices of sweet onion and a Granny Smith apple, which I slowly caramelized in the pan. After pouring in a hearty amount of Riesling wine, a can of drained mild sauerkraut, shredded fresh red cabbage, juniper berries, thyme, pearl onions and chicken broth, my kitchen smelled like a German beerhouse. As the cabbage braised, I browned boneless chicken thighs, added them to the cabbage, and also baked cookies. That is not a typo, I had made cookie batter the night before and after a proper rest in the refrigerator, (I have heard that is the key to great cookies) I figured why not wait, I had time while my cabbage braised.  Let me just note that my small apartment kitchen now smelled like a cross between an Auntie Anne’s cookie shop and a Bratwurst stand. Weird, sort of like when I stumbled across a café in the West Village a few years ago called New York Hot Dogs & Coffee. Now, dogs and ketchup, dogs and pop, dogs and shakes—those all make sense to me. Dogs and coffee??? Needless to say, when I passed by the same location this summer, New York Dogs & Coffee had sadly closed. I guess even New Yorkers aren’t that adventurous when it comes to combo meals. Now, back to that chicken recipe…

I had to wait for my husband to get home from a cross-country trip to L.A., so my cabbage and chicken braised longer than I had originally intended. And herein lies the benefit of using chicken thighs. Unlike chicken breasts, they don’t easily become dry and overcooked, which is why I recommend using them when you are braising. Even though I cooked my chicken thighs at least 10 minutes longer than necessary, they remained tender and juicy. We ate our chicken and cabbage with homemade crusty bread and a salad dressed in simple vinaigrette, but you could also serve it with mashed potatoes or egg noodles (spaetzle would be great too). I should also note that this recipe is not comfort food in the sense of “I cannot move and must lie on my sofa for the next few hours while I digest”. It is bright and lively thanks to the sauerkraut and wine, and it will definitely warm you up on a cold night. It’s also perfect for a crowd (Super Bowl party anyone?).

Guten Appetit!

Braised Chicken Thighs with Sauerkraut, Riesling, Apple and Bacon
Serves 4
Time: 1 ¼ – 1 ½ hours, including prep time

  • 6 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ head of a medium-sized red cabbage, core removed and thinly sliced
  • 1, 14-ounce can of mild sauerkraut (I used Hengstenberg Mildessa mild sauerkraut, made with wine), drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium granny smith apple, chopped into small ½ inch cubes
  • 2/3 cup of dry Riesling wine (you can substitute the Riesling for any dry white wine if necessary)
  • 10 ounces pearl onions, peeled (I found fresh, peeled pearl onions in the produce department at my grocery store, but you can omit these if you can’t find them or don’t have time to peel the onions)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 12 juniper berries
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1.75 pounds boneless chicken thigh (with skin or without is fine here)
    1. Heat a large, straight-sided sauté pan with a lid (or a braising pot) over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the bacon, and cook until almost all of the fat has rendered out and the bacon is slightly crispy.
    2. Add the onion slices and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onion is soft and caramelized.
    3. Add the apple pieces, and cook for an additional 3 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
    4. Add the fresh red cabbage and cook for 5 minutes, or until the cabbage is beginning to wilt.
    5. Add the sauerkraut, pearl onions, wine, broth, juniper berries, fresh thyme, and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper.
    6. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
    7. While the cabbage is simmering, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add a tablespoon of canola oil.
    8. Season the chicken thighs well with salt and pepper and place them in the hot pan, being careful not to over-crowd the chicken (I browned my chicken in 2 batches). Brown the chicken thighs on both sides, about 8 minutes per side, or until golden brown.
    9. Transfer the chicken to a platter or plate until ready to use.
    10. Remove the cover from the pot with the cabbage, add the chicken thighs and nestle them into the cabbage mixture so that they are covered with cabbage.
    11. Cover the pot again and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
    12. Uncover, remove the pot from the heat and serve.

Potato & Leek Soup

I adore Potato & Leek Soup, or Vichyssoise as the French refer to it. Vichyssoise is typically served chilled, but in the winter or on a rainy Spring day, I prefer to eat it piping hot with some fresh bread. There is nothing fancy about this recipe; it is incredibly simple but also delicious and comforting. Don’t even try to substitute leeks for onions here, because it just won’t taste the same. Leeks have a much sweeter and slightly more complex taste in my opinion. Typically this soup has heavy cream in it, but I prefer to make a lighter version because I find that the potatoes add plenty of creaminess without the need for extra fat.

Soups like this, with only six ingredients (not including the salt and pepper) remind me of why good quality and fresh ingredients are so important. The flavor of this soup far exceeds what you would expect from these humble ingredients.

Happy Cooking,

Potato & Leek Soup
Serves 5-6 as an entree, or 8 as a first course


  • 3 large leeks (split lengthwise, soaked, and rinsed in cold water to remove the dirt). Chop only the white and pale green parts into thin slices.
  • 3 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes, cleaned, peeled, and cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves)
  • 2 tablespoons half & half or heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat a large soup pot or large enameled-cast iron Dutch Oven over low heat on the stove.
  2. Add the butter and leeks and sweat the leeks over low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until translucent.
  3. Add the potatoes, broth, and thyme and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  4. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through. Remove from the heat.
  5. Using an immersion blender or regular blender, puree the soup (you can make the soup as smooth or as chunky as you like!)
  6. Add the half & half (you can use more or less depending on how creamy you like your soup) and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve chilled.

Serving suggestions: This soup is a meal in itself when served with some nice hearty bread, cheese (I like cheddar or stilton with this soup), and a simple salad. Alternatively, this soup would make a great first course, served either warm or chilled.

Pulled Pork Arepas with Red Cabbage Slaw

For years I have been intrigued by the thought of making my own tortillas, tamales, or arepas, but until now I had never taken the plunge. When I saw this recipe in Food & Wine, I was determined to make it at home as soon as possible. As soon as possible turned into a few months, but I’m not complaining, I’m just happy that I finally achieved my goal. And more importantly, I am happy to report that my first attempt at cooking with masa harina (very finely ground corn flour) was a success! These arepas were delicious, and I can’t wait to make them again and to experiment with the filling, maybe substituting the pork for beans?!

When I initially considered making these arepas, I assumed that I would substitute the pulled pork for shredded chicken (because who, after all, has 6 consecutive hours to cook an entire pork shoulder? And more importantly, how could I possibly fit enough people into my small apartment to eat that entire pork shoulder?). In what was certainly a sign of divine intervention, Fresh Direct was promoting its all-natural Berkshire pulled pork last week. I was hesitant about buying pre-made pork, but after reading that the pork was seasoned simply with just salt and pepper, I was sold. Fortunately, I had purchased a small bag of masa harina from a specialty spice store a few weeks earlier, so with recipe in hand, I went to the grocery store and bought the remaining ingredients for the recipe.

After returning from the grocery store, I tackled my biggest fear—making the arepa dough. Thankfully, this recipe couldn’t be more straightforward, you simply combine the masa harina with a touch of salt and some warm water and then let the dough rest for 15 minutes. However, the challenge is forming the dough into disks without breaking the dough. My first attempt ended in failure, I couldn’t even form a flat circle, let alone stuff the pork inside the arepa. After deciding that my dough must be too wet, I added more masa harina and tried again, this time flattening the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap so that the dough wouldn’t stick to my work surface. This time, I was able to form the disk. I cautiously placed a small amount of pork filling in the center of the disk and than very carefully brought the sides of the dough up around the pork, creating a ball (inside the plastic wrap). Then, I even more carefully flattened the ball with my palm. To my shock and delight, it actually worked! Even though my arepas were very delicate, they didn’t have any gaping holes. I delicately placed each arepa on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and then placed the formed arepas in the refrigerator until dinner.

To cook the arepas, I modified the recipe. I wasn’t keen on frying the arepas, so I sautéed them in a nonstick skillet over high heat with a small amount of canola oil.  After browning both sides, I placed the cooked arepas in the oven to finish cooking. We ate our arepas topped with the red cabbage and red onion slaw suggested by Food & Wine, which added just the right amount of acidity to counterbalance the rich filling. We also garnished our arepas with some sour cream, fresh cilantro, and pickled jalapeños (which I was surprised to discover that I enjoy tremendously!). In the end, it was a fantastic meal. I loved how the soft and sweet masa dough paired with the slightly smoky and spicy pork. Now I just need an excuse to have a fiesta in my small apartment so that I can make them again!

Happy Cooking,

Pulled Pork Arepas with Red Cabbage Slaw
Recipe slightly adapted from Food & Wine


  • 2.5 cups masa harina flour (I have heard that Maseca brand is the best)
  • 1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces cooked pulled pork (or chicken if that is what you have on hand)
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced scallion (green parts only)
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • hot sauce to taste (I used Frank’s hot sauce)
  • 2 cups finely sliced red cabbage
  • ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Vegetable oil (for sautéing)
  • Sliced picked jalapeños, sour cream (low fat or regular), fresh cilantro


  1. Combine the masa harina and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and combine well until the mixture forms a soft dough. Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes at room temperature.
  2. While the dough is resting, combine the pulled pork, cheddar, hot sauce, scallions, and cilantro in a bowl.
  3. After the dough has rested for 15 minutes, line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil and set aside. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on your work surface or cutting board. Place a quarter of the dough on the plastic wrap and form a small ball with the dough. Place another sheet of plastic wrap on top of the dough and press down with your palm to form a 7-inch disk. Place about a third of a cup of the pork filling in the center of the disk. Carefully pull up the sides of the disk to form a ball around the filling, keeping the plastic wrap in place. Gently press down to form a 4-5 inch disk. Place the formed arepa on the sheet pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Repeat three more times to form four arepas. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
  4. At least 30 minutes before you plan to serve the arepas, combine the red cabbage, red onion, and red wine vinegar in a bowl. Season with salt to taste. Cover until ready to serve.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place a medium-size nonstick skillet over high heat.
  6. Add a tablespoon or two of canola oil to the pan and swirl to coat the surface of the pan with oil. Place two of the arepas (seam side down) in the pan and sauté over high heat, flipping once, until both sides are a nice golden brown color.
  7. Place in the oven to finish cooking for approximately 5 minutes. Repeat steps 6 and 7 to cook the remaining two arepas.
  8. Serve with slaw and additional garnish as desired.

Indian Food at Home

Ever since taking an art history class on Indian painting and sculpture in college, I have wanted to visit India, and even before that I loved eating Indian food. Everything about it appeals to my taste buds, the bold use of spices, the subtle (or in some cases fiery) heat, and the coolness of yogurt raita that I often accompanies the curries.

One of my favorite parts about going out to eat at an Indian restaurant for dinner is how many dishes I get to sample. In my family, we always share some samosas and pakora, a few curries, a daal (lentil dish), and a tandoori baked naan or paratha bread. The combination of flavors on my plate always entice me back for another serving, I just can’t help myself.

When I moved to New York from the Washington DC area, my favorite Indian restaurant quickly became a small vegetarian restaurant that serves a combination of Southern and Northern Indian food. Although they make some great dosas, my favorite dishes on the menu are the samosas and the chana masala (chickpea curry). Samosas in many restaurants can be disappointing, either too bland or too greasy, or both. The samosas at this restaurant are brimming with spices and are perfectly crispy on the outside. The chana masala is gingery and bright, containing fresh herbs and a nice dose of sautéed onions, tomatoes, cumin, and coriander. However, I can’t always make it downtown to eat at this restaurant, and to be honest, I like experimenting at home when I can.

A few weekends ago I decided to make my own version of an Indian chicken curry, loosely based off of Jamie Oliver’s recipe for chicken tikka masala. I have made this recipe before, and each time I remember why I love it. The first step involved marinating chicken in a pureed mixture of toasted spices, ginger, garlic, fresh cilantro, and yogurt. My best piece of advice is to marinade the chicken overnight if you have time, because the yogurt tenderizes the meat and ensures that the chicken stays nice and juicy after it is cooked. After allowing the chicken to marinade, I add the chicken to a sauce made of sautéed onions, more spices, and tomato sauce. Although Jamie Oliver discards the yogurt marinade and cooks his chicken under a broiler, I just add the yogurt and the chicken to the tomato sauce in the pan because the yogurt adds extra creaminess to the sauce without the need to add extra cream or butter. And to be honest, I didn’t feel like taking the time to broil the chicken. Even though it can’t compare to my favorite Indian restaurant, this curry perfectly satisfies my craving for Indian food.

Happy Cooking,

Indian Chicken Curry
Loosely adapted from Jamie Oliver’s chicken tikka masala


  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala (can be purchased in some grocery stores and at specialty stores)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1.5 cups low fat or whole plain yogurt
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup canned pureed tomatoes or finely chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup water


  1. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat and add one tablespoon of olive oil and the mustard seeds. Cook mustard seeds until they begin to pop. As soon as they start to pop (being careful, because the seeds will try to pop out of the pan!!) add the cumin, paprika, one teaspoon of garam masala, the coriander, curry powder, ginger, and garlic to the pan. Sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes and then remove the pan from the heat.
  2. Combine the cilantro and yogurt in a food processor with the toasted spices and process until smooth.
  3. Cut the chicken breast into 1-inch pieces and place in a large bowl. Pour the yogurt marinade over the chicken and combine well. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
  4. 30 minutes before you plan to serve the meal remove the chicken from the refrigerator and place a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium low heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the onion to the pan and sweat over low heat until the onion in translucent and soft.
  5. Add one teaspoon of garam masala and a pinch of cayenne to the pan and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Add the tomato sauce and water to the pan, increase the heat, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Lower the heat and simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes.
  7. Add the chicken pieces and the yogurt marinade to the pan and cook for an additional 7 to 10 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked through.
  8. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
  9. Serve over steamed basmati rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Additional serving suggestionsraita (homemade or store bought), yogurt, naan bread, daal, mango chutney.

Simple Roast Chicken with Dorie’s Creamy Rice

I’m not sure how I have managed to neglect roast chicken on a blog with the title of “Sunday Suppers”, but somehow I did. It’s time to change that. Last weekend we made a simple roast chicken with fresh haricot verts (green beans) and Dorie Greenspan’s “creamy, cheesy, garlicky rice with spinach”. I can’t decide if the chicken or the rice was the highlight of the meal. Irregardless, it was a great meal accompanied by a nice bottle of wine, and perfect for a cold winter night. Make this soon!

Happy Cooking,

Simple Roast Chicken with Dorie Greenspan’s ‘creamy, cheesy, garlicky rice with spinach’
Rice slightly adapted from Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan
Serves 4

Ingredients the roast chicken:

  • 1 3lb. free range, organic chicken
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • ½ head of garlic (skin on)
  • ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions for the roast chicken:

  • Take the chicken out of the fridge 20-30 minutes before you plan to cook it.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Remove the giblet packet from the chicken if it inside the cavity.
  • Liberally season both the cavity and skin of the chicken with salt and fresh ground pepper.
  • Stuff the chicken with the lemon, garlic, and thyme sprigs.
  • Truss the chicken with string if available.
  • Rub the entire chicken with melted butter.
  • Place the chicken breast side up in a roasting pan and place it in the preheated oven.
  • Cook for approximately 1 hour, or until the chicken is done and the juices run clear.

Ingredients for the rice:

  • 3 ¼-3 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup Carnaroli rice (Arborio may be substituted but Carnaroli is more resistant to overcooking)
  • 10 ounces frozen leaf spinach
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ – ½ cup grated Gruyere
  • Approximately ¼ to ½ cup half and half
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions for the rice:

  1. In a medium saucepan with a lid, bring 3 ¼ cups of broth to a boil. Add the rice and stir once, cover, and simmer over low heat until almost all of the broth has been absorbed and the rice is tender but still slightly al dente (approximately 20 minutes).
  2. While the rice is cooking, defrost the frozen spinach by placing it in a colander in the sink and pouring boiling water over the spinach. Drain and dry the spinach and coarsely chop.
  3. Place a medium to large sauté pan with straight sides over low heat and sweat the onion and garlic in butter until the onion is translucent and soft.
  4. Add the spinach and sauté for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add the rice and stir well. Add the cheese and cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook over very low heat until the cheese has melted.
  6. If the mixture is dry, add a bit more half & half or broth.
  7. Serve immediately.

Turkish Borek Meat Filling

Happy New Year! 2011 has been an eventful and fun year, but I am even more excited for 2012.  I ended the year with a great recipe that I want to share with you, and it was inspired by my recent trip to Turkey. Brian and I ate our weight in eggplant and yogurt during our trip (thankfully two of my favorite foods), but we were also were lucky enough to try many traditional Turkish meze, including borek. Cigar borek are thin cigar-shaped pastries made with phyllo dough and stuffed with either meat or cheese. We tried both types in Turkey, but I was particularly enamored with the meat borek, which were filled with wonderful spices and herbs. In fact, they were so flavorful that I often could only identify a few of the spices that the meat had been cooked with. Upon my return to New York, I immediately began searching the Internet and cookbooks, hoping to find the secret to Turkish borek. As luck would have it, I found a wonderful cookbook at work (I am lucky enough to work for a food magazine that has an entire library of cookbooks!) with exactly what I was looking for. A few weeks later I was invited to a housewarming party and decided to test out the recipe that I had found. I made meat borek, but substituted the phyllo dough for puff pastry in the absence of the former. I slightly (okay, massively) overestimated how much filling I needed, and ended up with an entire quart of leftover meat. Absolutely horrified at the idea of wasting it, but not keen on eating small hors d’oeuvres for dinner, I decided to “repurpose” it (a scary term, as repurposing can often have quite negative outcomes in the kitchen!). For our Sunday dinner, I made moussaka, another Mediterranean dish that is traditionally made by layering eggplant (what else!), lamb, béchamel sauce, and potatoes in a casserole dish. Okay, I simplified that a wee bit, but that is the gist of it anyway.

My moussaka was surprisingly made with an olive oil-based béchamel sauce that I found in Jeannette Seaver’s cookbook, My New Mediterranean Cookbook. I was delighted to discover that it tasted great, and will certainly use it in the future. I also cheated a bit by cooking diced eggplant in canned tomatoes instead of thinly slicing the eggplant and broiling it, which would have taken far too long. After I had made each component of the moussaka, I carefully layered thinly sliced potatoes, the eggplant mixture, leftover borek filling, and béchamel in a casserole dish and baked it for 35 minutes. My only complaint is that the leftovers didn’t last long!

I am leaving you with the recipe that I adapted to make my borek and moussaka.  It is so good that I will likely bore my friends by serving it at every cocktail party and potluck dinner from here on out. There are so many ways in which this spiced meat mixture could be used, including in lasagna, meatballs, turnovers, etc. etc. If you find a creative way of using it, please let me know, as it is already one of my favorite recipes for 2012!

Happy Cooking,

Turkish Borek Meat Filling


  • 1 large onion
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ½ yellow or red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • a tiny pinch of ground clove
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 lb. minced beef or lamb (I actually used beef, but lamb is more popular in Turkey)
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • ¼ cup dried currants
  • ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine the onion, jalapeño, garlic and bell pepper in a good processor and pulse until the mixture is almost a paste but still slightly chunky.
  2. Heat olive oil in a wide sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper mixture and sauté until the mixture begins to brown slightly.
  3. Add the cumin, oregano, cinnamon, clove, paprika, and tomato paste and continue to cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until very fragrant.
  4. Add the beef, currants and pine nuts and cook for an additional 20-25 minutes over low heat.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and add all of the chopped parsley.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Allow to cool and refrigerate, or use in lasagna, moussaka, phyllo cigars, etc.

Red Wine Braised Beef with Fall Vegetables

The smell of red wine, onions, and fresh rosemary and thyme permeated our entire apartment last weekend.  It made us hungry well before we were ready to have dinner. By the time that our braised beef was finished, we were almost famished, eager to dig in to the tender meat, root vegetables, and rustic mashed potatoes made from creamy German butterball potatoes bought that morning from the farmers market.

I am ashamed to admit that it has been far too long since I ventured downtown to the Union Square Greenmarket. The fall is actually my favorite season to visit the farmers market. I love the gourds, pumpkins, root vegetables, and apples that are prominently displayed. It inspires me to cook, and to be creative in the kitchen. In the summer I shy away from making complicated dishes, preferring to make simple dishes that allow the flavor of the vegetables and fruits to take center stage. In the fall and winter, I want to make stews, braises, and French sauces, recipes that allow me to build layer upon layer of flavor.

The following recipe is certainly not groundbreaking; it is rustic and uncomplicated, definitely suitable for a Sunday dinner on a cold evening. The ingredients that we bought from the farmers market are what stood out and made this delicious. At one stand we found baby carrots with their green tops still intact; at another, we found celery root, fresh rosemary, thyme, and small cipollini onions in various colors. My favorite purchase was a bag of German butterball potatoes, which cost a small fortune, but made up for it in flavor. After eating feather-light gnocchi made out of German butterballs at an Italian restaurant earlier in the week, I knew that they would make delicious mashed potatoes, and I was right. In addition to the vegetables and herbs, we also found grass-fed beef that I later cut into cubes.

The steps involved in this recipe are not difficult, but they do require some patience. You don’t want to rush the browning process of the meat, nor do you want to skip sweating the onions and garlic, which is necessary in order to develop a complex braising liquid that is rich and flavorful. There are many ways in which you could modify this recipe. For example, you could use turnips instead of celery root. There is a good deal of red wine involved here, so I recommend using an inexpensive wine that you enjoy drinking, because it will make a difference.  Now let’s get to the recipe!

Happy Cooking,

Red Wine Braised Beef with Fall Vegetables
Serves 6


  • 1 ½ lbs. grass-fed stew beef, cut into cubes (beef chuck is ideal here)
  • 1-2 tablespoons canola oil (for browning the beef)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 small tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons cognac (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1 bunch of baby carrots, peeled and trimmed, and left whole
  • 18 cippolini onions (3 per person), peeled and trimmed, and left whole
  • 1 head of celery root, peeled and cut into 1½ inch cubes
  • ½ to ¾ of a bottle of red wine (I used a Bordeaux)
  •  2 cups of beef broth
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme


  1. Place a large cast-iron pot (or any oven-safe pot with a lid) over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the canola oil and the cubed beef and brown the beef on all sides. Once the beef is well browned, remove it from the pan and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add the onion, celery, and garlic. Sweat over low heat until translucent.
  4. Add the tomato and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add all of the cognac. Allow the cognac to reduce by ¾ and then add the tomato paste. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add the flour and browned meat and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Add enough wine to come up to ¾ of the height of the vegetables and then add enough beef broth to just cover the vegetables and meat.
  8. Add the rosemary, thyme, carrots, cippolini onions, and celery root. Season with a few turns of fresh ground black pepper.
  9. Allow the liquid to come to a simmer and then cover the pot and place it in the oven for 1½ to 2 hours, or until the meat is fork tender.
  10. When the meat is tender, remove the braise from the oven. Using a ladle, ladle out 5 to 6 cups of the braising liquid (without any meat or vegetables) into a wide, shallow sauté pan with sloping sides.
  11. Place the braising liquid on the stove over high heat and reduce until the braising liquid is nappant (meaning that it coats the back of a spoon).

To Serve:

Ladle a portion of meat and vegetables onto a plate and spoon some of the reduced braising liquid over the meat and vegetables. Serve with homemade mashed potatoes.