Cauliflower and leek pasta

This weekend I went to a cooking class at Williams-Sonoma in Columbus Circle called Fresh & Fast: Pasta. It was a free little class, didn’t seem to matter that I signed up, as it was first come first serve space at the demonstration counter in the back of the store. Don’t worry, I was a bit early, got a prime spot right in the middle, wouldn’t want to miss the action. I learned a lot of interesting things – you can put a little of the pasta water in the cooked pasta when it’s out of the pot to keep it from sticking together, you can add a bit of sugar to a tomato sauce that hasn’t cooked for hours to cut some of the acidity, and when cooking with wine, use the wine in your dish that you’ll be serving at dinner. So buy that extra bottle that you can attribute to the cooking, and share some with yourself at the same time!!! I also found out that people put olive oil into the pot when cooking pasta – I’d never heard of this and instinctively it felt wrong – and it is! It takes away from the pasta a bit, and it coats the pasta so the sauce you’re serving it with won’t stick to the pasta.

We had an hour for the class, (an hour on my feet – I never noticed, distracted by thoughts of whether or not I would get to taste whatever gems we watched her cook. The good news – we did, which if we didn’t I wouldn’t have been happy. This is my primary complaint with cooking shows on television.) and went through the preparation of 2 different pasta dishes. The first was an amazing pasta bolognese, which I will prepare and present to you at a later date, but I’ve been cooking with red sauce a lot lately, and so I’ve prepared the second for you, which is a cheese based sauce, and also vegetarian for all you fakers out there trying to abstain from meat, and for you dear readers who are truly vegetarians (I’m so thoughtful). I liked this dish as it was easy to make, and quick, with little prep, and the sauce is light, contrary to most cheese sauces, so you won’t gain five pounds just looking at the pasta, longing for a bite.

Here’s the recipe, as written down by me, from my Williams-Sonoma cooking class (supposedly this, or a version of this, is in their (new!) pasta cook book. Convienently for sale for $29.95.)


4 leeks, the white and light green bits only, cut down the middle lengthwise

1lb – 1.5lb of cauliflower tops (I can’t seem to find whole cauliflowers at the moment, but luckily Whole Foods provides some already chopped for me! How nice!)

1/4 lb goat cheese

16 oz of pasta, such as conchigile bucatini, or any sort of pasta that the sauce will fill up into, bite sized

a couple garlic cloves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the dark green tops off the leeks, and the cut the remaining white and light green down the middle length wise. This is a great way to cut leeks in general as it’s the easiest way to get all the dirt and sand out. You can sort of fan out the layers and run water through them, and catch dirt clumps you may have missed otherwise. Lay the leeks on a pan with the garlic cloves (on top of parchment paper or aluminum, saves time on clean up), drizzle olive oil  and salt. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes, until the leeks and garlic cloves are soft. Be careful when touching them with bare fingers – HOT!!!

When the leeks are done start the pasta (start boiling the water before the timer goes off to cut down on wait time). This will allow aforementioned HOT! leeks to cool, and you can cut them up into bite sizes. I learned that you can quite liberally add salt to the boiling water – I gasped when I saw the chef do it the first time (it was actually a shocking amount, but the dishes weren’t over salted), but she said it cuts down on the salting at the end of the dish, which is better for your health. At any rate – don’t be shy with the salt in the boiling water. Check the pasta box to see how long it will take to cook – keep that in mind, so that 3 minutes before it’s finished, you can throw in the bite sized cauliflower tops. The chef lady said to blanch the cauliflower, but I never saw her take it out of the hot water and put in ice/cold water, so we can all remain puzzled at that. With three minutes to go on the pasta  stick in the cauliflower.

In a bowl, put the goat cheese in the bottom, cut (can you cut goat cheese? isn’t is more of a separation thing?) into pieces. Take about a ladle or so of the pasta water (1/2 cup – 1 cup) and pour into the bowl. Mix with a whisk. add the pasta, cauliflower and the garlic and leeks you cut up while the pasta was cooking. Stir together, ensuring the pasta and veggies are coated in the sauce. Season with black pepper. I added some cut up kalamata olives – I loved the salty taste they add, and they were a nice contrast of color.

Seriously this dish should take no more than 30 minutes, requires so few ingredients, and quite honestly makes a TON of pasta. I made a half batch and have enough for a couple of meals. You can play with the ratios of pasta to cauliflower to leeks as you please, and if you’d like to increase/decrease the intensity of the goats cheese sauce play with the cheese/water ratio. I really like goats cheese, but sometimes can find it a bit overpowering, but didn’t find this to be the case in this dish. Its a good warm meal for these cold winter nights, but I imagine it would be lovely in the summer, when the leeks and cauliflowers are in season.


Pot Roast (or as my dad calls it, Marijuana Roast)

I have had enough of this cold weather! I would be happy for the thermometer to simply rise above freezing! I’m seriously considering moving somewhere more temperate when I grow up. But answer me this – could I learn to live without a White Christmas? Jury is still out on that one…

At any rate, now is the time when you want a meal to warm you up, make you want to snuggle under the covers and be okay with the fact that if you don’t have slippers on you could lose a toe to frostbite. Although you dear readers don’t know this, I have been working on soups galore (okay, well 2), and you’ve been noticing all the pasta I’ve consumed the past week, thus it is time for MEAT! Yum.

So this  week I’ve turned to a trusty pot roast (if my father ever refers to a marijuana roast, this is what he is referring to, and I’m fairly certain no actual marijuana is involved). Such a simple combination of meat and veggies is sure to stick to your ribs, and actually not bad for you – no butter added!



1 roast – size depends on how many servings you want.


potatoes (I like Yukon Gold for their buttery taste)

yellow onion

garlic cloves

So the trick to this recipe is that you put in whatever quantity that you want! Tonight I was only cooking for myself, so I purchased 1.25lbs of bottom round roast. It’s the cheap stuff, but the good news is that you can’t really overcook your roast – the longer you cook it, the softer it gets. It also has a layer of fat (which I trim when eating) that adds flavor when cooking. Also, I like the cooked carrots, and always feel that there is a too large potato to carrot ratio, so tonight I bought 5 carrots and only 2 bigger sized potatoes. I also got a medium sized yellow onion, and used 6 cloves of garlic.

Preheat the oven to 330 Fahrenheit. Prep your veggies. Peel the carrots and potatoes and then chop into similar sizes so they cook evenly. I cut the onion into wedges, in a size manageable for bites. Peel the garlic (obvious I guess). Heat your dutch oven (not the kind where someone farts under the covers and makes you smell it) on the stove, cover the bottom with olive oil, and sear the sides of your roast. Now your roast is oven ready! As mine was so small, and only required about an hour or so of cooking, I added all the veggies at this point as well. If your roast is larger, you’ll want to put the meat in alone, adding the veggies later. Season generously with salt and pepper, put the lid on your pot and stick it in the oven!

My little roast was in the oven about an hour and fifteen, until the meat was tender (note that the roast in the photo above has my dinner already taken out of it lol). I trimmed the fat – yick, cut my serving of dinner, served up the potatoes and carrots, and then spooned the juices from the bottom of the pan (the best part!) on top. Mmmm.

Italy is Eataly

This past Monday I was searching for some sort of culinary adventure – a new restaurant, some obscure food market (too much effort), a new recipe? And then it hit me – I’ve been dying to go to Eataly. Eataly is this 50,000 square foot behemoth of a Italian supermarket/restaurant combination located at 200 5th Avenue, catty-corner to the Flatiron building. I figured if I was going to eat and shop, I would need at least a couple hours, and what better to do on a day off!!!! I recruited Beth, who, after hearing stories of friends leaving with over $100 in cheese, was quite willing to go with me. $100 in cheese? Ahhh this place must be divine.

And it is. I walked in, and felt what must be sensory overload. We entered in the produce section, and I could not focus my mind, looking everywhere trying to take it all in. Thinking it unwise to shop on an empty stomach, and me being too excited to stop myself from putting one of everything in my basket, Beth and I walked straight ahead to the first eating stop we could see. Eataly has been designed so you can shop, eat a little, continue with your shopping, and then if you’d like, stop in for another bite somewhere else. With good fortune, Beth and I found ourselves surrounded by salumi e formaggi, in La Piazza, perfect. We shared a high top table with a couple of girls who had a magnificent tray of meats and cheeses (you just walk up, remain standing, and someone brings a menu to you). We ordered the same, the Grande Piatto Misto. We ordered a moderately priced glass of red each, and feasted on salumi, cheese, figs and candied oranges. While mixing up combinations of cheeses and salumi (for those not fluent in Italian, salumi are Italian cured meats, made predominantly from pork. Think prosciutto. Yum.) we were able to get our bearings, and start to take in the experience. Around us was bustle everywhere – we watched them make fresh mozzarella, serve various drafts of beer, and figured out the woman yelling “ding ding ding ding ding” had something to do with the $10 wine and cheese tasting. I told Beth I thought I’d died and was in Heaven. I must get myself to the REAL Italy.

Once finished eating we set out to shop. We went to the gadgets first, full of colorful Italian products. I have to say, it was genius that the creators of Eataly have incorporated eating and drinking into the shopping experience, as I am convinced that a significant portion of their sales must come from impulse buys from pissed shoppers. Beth – might you have anything to comment here? Anyways, as much as I wanted to go home with something, I somehow was able to not buy anything!! We moved on to the book section, the pasta section, where again, you watch them make the pasta in front of you, the meat counter, the dairy section, the coffee bar, the dessert bar. Again, showing remarkable self-control, I found my basket still empty. The treats I settled on were freshly made pasta (you have to be very gentle with it, advises the pasta maker) and 5 oz of mozzarella.

Deciding we wanted to make the most of adventure, Beth and I set out to eat again. Not wanting too much more (and vowing that next time we’d visit the La Pizza & Pasta, with empty stomachs) we went back to La Piazza. This time we ordered the hearts of palm and chick peas salad. And Italian birra. The salad was delicious and I intend to try to recreate it. It was a base of chick peas. They were not canned, so it will be an adventure to cook my own peas! On top were marinated artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, tiny slices of red onion (which, I’ve always wondered why it’s called red onion, when its color is most certainly purple), parmesan cheese and a hint of mint. After enjoying our salad and beers, Beth and I were exhausted, and ready for naps, so back uptown we went.

I have to admit that after a day in Eataly and Pasta alla Norma the night before, I was so full of sodium and food that I was mentally not able to prepare my fresh pasta until today. I know, fresh pasta is only fresh for about a couple of days, but it didn’t fare too badly. I’ve been craving meatballs for about 2 weeks now, and so I prepared meatballs and red sauce. I admit I bought meatballs from Gourmet Garage, but I prepared a version of the sauce from last weeks Pasta alla Norma. The meatballs, pasta, and sauce were so good, I’m writing now with a full belly.

Sara Jenkins’ Pasta Alla Norma

“Oh sweet Jesus” were the first words out my mouth after my first bite. “F*%k this is good” were the words after my first taste of the sauce.  Beth’s first words once she was able to put a sentence together were “You need to go to Italy.”  It. Was. Amazing.

Saveur magazine had an entire issue of chefs favorite things, from recipes, restaurants, foods and  techniques. It was so much fun to go  through the pages and see what prominent chefs around the world liked, and with recipes and advice  to go with, it made their food more  accessible than a fancy dinner out.

I haven’t been cooking  a lot of pasta the past few years (I think in an attempt to cut down on carbs, but clearly I’ve made up for the lack of  pasta in other arenas) but when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. The recipe is from Sara Jenkins of Porchetta, but she was inspired  by Salvatore Denaro, a Sicilian born chef. Aside from my desire to visit Italy and immerse myself in the food and wine, the recipe appeared  fairly simple, with basic ingredients – always a plus!

Here’s the recipe:


2 medium eggplants, cut into 3/4″ cubes

7 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 small yellow onion, minced

1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 28-oz. can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, undrained and crushed by hand

16 fresh basil leaves, torn by hand

1 lb. bucatini or spaghetti

4 oz. ricotta salata, grated

Heat oven to 500º. Put eggplant into a bowl and drizzle with 4 tbsp. oil. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper. Transfer eggplant to 2 baking sheets and bake, turning occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack; set aside.

Heat remaining oil in a 5-qt. pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add chile flakes and garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic softens, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and half the basil, season with salt, and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until just al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to tomato sauce. Stir in reserved eggplant and toss to combine. Stir in remaining basil and season with salt. To serve, transfer pasta to a platter and garnish with ricotta salata.

This article was first published in Saveur in Issue #135

SAVEUR 100: Sara Jenkins’ Pasta Alla Norma (Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Eggplant) –

I have never cooked with eggplant before and it’s not particularly tricky. Beth and I tasted it raw, and it has a bit of a peppery taste. I only used one (normal sized??) eggplant as it looked like a lot when I cut it up and put it on the tray, but I think I would use more the next time, particularly if I was serving more than 2 people (yes, I realize this is meant to be 4 servings… last night it served 2 just fine. Although we may or may not have been uncomfortably full after). Also I found that the larger pieces baked better, the smaller pieces came out a bit burnt.

Chopping the eggplant was easy, and preparing the onion and the garlic was simple as well. I was a bit shocked when I saw to use 5 cloves of garlic, but I didn’t find it overwhelming in the sauce. It was delish! I’ve also never used whole peeled tomatoes, and crushing them by hand was so much fun – it gave meaning to “hands on”! I had to take the bowl away from Beth before we had tomato paste! The San Marzano tomatoes were so nice – nothing like any canned tomatoes I’ve had before. Full of flavor and fresh tasting. They were definitely worth the extra couple bucks.

This recipe was so easy – once you have the ingredients in the pan for the sauce you just need to remember to start the water for the pasta. I also would recommend using a knife for the basil – the hand tearing didn’t really leave the basil in the sort of shape visually or size-wise that I’d want for a sauce. Just place all the leaves on top of each other, roll up, and the cut down the roll. Beth and I also thought that the sauce could use a bit more basil. I liked the addition of the red chile flakes, and Beth noted that it was the “perfect combination of spiciness and tomato.”

I also have to admit I didn’t find the ricotta salata. And I think cheese of some sort is necessary. We used a bit of white cheddar for the texture, but I certainly would like to use the ricotta salata or a parmesan.

This recipe was truly divine, you must try it!!! Also, for those of us on a budget, if you have the olive oil, the ingredients cost me only about $20!!!!

Kashkaval is a type of cheese?

Yep! According to Wikipedia it is a specific type of yellow sheep milk cheese, which I’m sure it is, but in my mind, Kashkaval is one of my favorite restaurants (possibly my number ONE favorite) in the city. I came across this divine little Mediterranean wine and cheese shop at 56th and 9th the first year I moved to NYC and I probably eat there at least once a month. In October it received a Michelin Guide recommendation. It’s small and cozy, and almost always a wait to be seated. If you don’t mind a short wait with a glass of wine, they can usually accommodate you at the bar faster than a table, which I actually prefer. If you don’t feel like waiting or want to eat at home, their Tapas are available to go! They also have various cheeses, meats and specialty items available to go. It’s a great place to go on a date, or a catch up with friends. And yes, if you’re wondering, I’ve sat at the bar alone and ate!!! They still serve you and treat you like a human!

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

1. The sampler plate – large or small. This is my usual go to – you can select up to 5 or 6 of the tapas served with pita bread. My all time favorite dip is the deep purple beet skordalia. Its a delicious mix of baked beets, garlic and other spices and herbs, with more of a dense texture than say a guacamole. I do not think they could make beets taste any better. It’s not too rich, and while I’m always a fan of extra garlic, enough people (particularly my mom who is not a fan of too much garlic) don’t find it offensive. My next favorite dip is the roasted red pepper spread (Ajvar). Again they have found a way to masterfully combine roasted red bell peppers and garlic, with a bit of a spicy kick. Their artichoke dip is light and fresh, with olive oil and lemon, sans mayonnaise.  Every time I go I get these three, and then change up the others. They have 17 different tapas to select from and I don’t think you can go wrong. I do have to say I’ve never tried the Taramasalata (fish roe, potatoes, olive oil and lemon juice) as it looks a bit like fish foam, but I see other people order it, so it must be good. Perhaps they would give me  a sample and I could update you folks. But I digress. The small is enough to share, but I lack self restraint and always say the large is what 2 people need (he he). If I’m getting takeaway I get the sampler to-go, which is a choice of 4 tapas for $10. I don’t think you can find better value in all of Manhattan – a whole meal, thats delicious and not mass produced for $10!?!?!

2. The wine. They have a decent size wine list with affordable choices that start around $28. They have an equal number of white selections and red, and I always seem to find myself ordering by the bottle. The staff are all able to help you select something if you are undecided, but I usually go with one of their full bodied reds, a shiraz or malbec.

3. The fondue. This place knows their cheese (shocking, right? They’ve named themselves after one). Better fondue than the Melting Pot, although there is no cook your own protein option, it’s either bread or veggies or both. It seems that every time a pot of their bubbly cheddar and ale fondue is placed in front of me, I find myself leaving the restaurant with small burns, as I’ve attempted to scrape every last drop of cheese out. They have a fondue with their namesake, and that is next on my list to try.

4. Their prices. You absolutely cannot argue with $10 for 4 tapas selections, $12 for 5 and $18 for 6! If you share with another person, which is plenty of food, you’re max going to pay $9 for your food! I like the accessibility of the place, where you can feel like you are getting a nice, sit down meal, but don’t feel like you can’t pass this on to anyone. I’ve taken so many people here, and would love to bring Padma and Tom, if they haven’t already been!!

5. The other things on the menu. Okay, I have to admit that I’m not very good at trying different things on the menu, but I’ve never been disappointed by my go-to dishes that its hard to break away. I’ve been so many times with a variety of people with different tastes, and I’ve yet to find anyone disappointed with their meal. I’ve heard rave reviews of the turkey meatballs and the chicken kebabs.

If you live in New York I suggest you visit (and take me too!) the next time you are looking for a relaxed and yummy experience. If you’re planning on visiting, make this a destination.

Negroni Chicken with Braised Blood Oranges and a small side of tears

My friend Sophie and I were discussing making dinner for tonight, and she mentioned she’d like chicken for dinner, in the vein of being healthy. I said “Sophie, there is no way I’m blogging about cooking chicken”. But I found a whole set of chicken recipes in this months Bon Appetit, and decided to make the Negroni Chicken with Braised Blood Oranges. Here’s the link:

The Italian Negroni cocktail inspired this recipe, which is a cocktail of gin, vermouth and oranges. I’m not sure why I picked this, as I don’t like gin, but I’m glad I did. Dinner was so delicious and I think my guests agreed (they said they did, but they could have just been being nice) as they cleaned their plates! Go me!

I’ll admit it was a bit of a project – you have to brine the bone in skin on chicken breasts (icky) and then marinate them over night. It also requires juniper berries – you need six, but can only purchase them in massive quantities (and by that I mean a full spice jar, but this is the first time I’ve ever heard of juniper berries, so what in God’s name am I going to do with the rest of them!?!?!). You also need a spice grinder – and the only one Bed Bath and Beyond had available for purchase yesterday turned out to have the blade set too high to even touch the cloves and juniper berries, but more on that later.

This adventure had its ups and downs – while placing the chicken in the pot to brine, one slipped out of the tongs and splashed up chicken juice in my eyes, all over the kitchen. If you can get salmonella though your eyes, I definitely have it. I’ve never brined anything before, but I highly recommend it – the chicken was so moist and tender, even down to the bone.

The prep work I did yesterday wasn’t difficult, but I encountered some challenges. First, the spice grinder. The cloves that I had to toast and then grind were no where near the blade. What sorts of spices is this spice grinder meant to grind? Giant spices? Frustrating to say the least. I improvised with the end of my whisk and a little bowl to make a pestal and mortar. Not perfect, but it did the trick. I put it in the pan, the smashed garlic, the thyme, the cinnamon and the blood orange peel gratings. I went to measure out the vermouth, and discovered I’d bought dry white vermouth (as one puts in martinis) and that I was meant to buy sweet, red vermouth. This is where the tears came in. I may or may not have dissolved into tears in my kitchen, sat on my step stool, wondering what I’d gotten myself into. Luckily I have a smart brother on call who did not judge my tears or my mistakes, and told me I could shake the grinder to get the cloves ground (moot point (or a moo point, if you will) as I’d already solved that issue of the cloves, but helpful as I knew I had to grind the juniper berries for the sauce) and that since the vermouth was going into the marinade I could use what I’d bought and add a little sugar. I stopped my sniveling, measured out the vermouth (which ended up being a tiny amount anyways) and added sugar. Go Matt! The marinade quantity isn’t a lot – it just covered the bottom of the pan – which I wasn’t expecting. It was, however, wonderful. Even though the top of the breast was the only part that sat in the marinade, you could taste the cinnamon and cloves throughout the whole breast (I did marinate overnight, and then all day today). I plan to make this marinade again, it was so wonderful. The recipe did say to flip the breasts a couple of times, which I did not do. It seemed to me that with the bones in, if I flipped them there wouldn’t be any marinade touchin the chicken. It didn’t seem to have an effect, but when I make this again, I’m going to use chicken cutlets and will flip them.

Sitting in the marinade

Today was the cooking part – I made the braised blood oranges – very easy to make and they made my apartment smell wonderful. When making this dish, you have to consider the timing. The sauce takes about 45 minutes or so to make as you saute the onions to a dark brown, and the chicken takes about 25 minutes in the oven, plus you brown the skin in a skillet first. You don’t combine them until you plate, so plan ahead! I started the onions, and then prepared the chicken. I have to say I was fairly impressed with myself, as I had to brown the chicken skin on the stove before you bake the breasts and monitor the sauce at the same time. Okay, maybe it wasn’t really that hard, but I was still pretty proud of myself! In the end, the sauce finished up before the chicken, so I turned off the burner, put a lid on the skillet, and let the heat from the oven keep the sauce warm. This is also how I kept the oranges warm, as I made them first.

I loved the sauce  – the juniper berries weren’t overwhelming like I feared, and it was so simple to make. But of course it was delicious – anything with 3 tablespoons of butter can’t possibly taste bad! My friend Beth and I were thinking that it was such a general sauce (onions, chicken broth, a bit of red wine vinegar and a bit of marjoram) that you could not include the juniper berries and maybe add mushrooms and serve with steak.

While this wouldn’t be a dish you’d make after work, it really wasn’t too difficult in the end. You need to plan ahead as you have to marinate the night before, and allow about an hour and a half to make the oranges and chicken.


Here’s the recipe that can be found in the January 2011 edition of Bon Appetit, Volume 56, Number 1.

4 servings

PREP TIME: 1 hour 30 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 14 hours (includes brining and marinating time)

Recipe by Jason Stratton

Photograph by José Picayo

January 2011




4 quarts cold water

3/4 cup coarse kosher salt

1/4 cup sugar

4 chicken breast halves with skin and bones (21/2 to 3 pounds total)

6 whole cloves

8 garlic cloves, smashed

1/4 cup sweet (red) vermouth

3 large fresh thyme sprigs, chopped

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon grated blood orange peel

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided


3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

4 cups thinly sliced onions (about 2 large)

6 juniper berries, ground in spice mill

1 cup low-salt chicken broth

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram

Braised Blood Oranges (click for recipe)

Fresh marjoram sprigs (for garnish)

ingredient info

Juniper berries are available in the spice section of most supermarkets.



Stir 4 quarts water, 3/4 cup coarse salt, and sugar in large pot until salt and sugar dissolve. Add chicken in single layer. Chill 11/2 hours. Remove from brine; pat dry.

Toast cloves in skillet over medium heat until beginning to smoke, about 4 minutes. Cool; grind finely. Transfer cloves to 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Whisk in next 6 ingredients, then 3 tablespoons oil. Add chicken. Cover and chill overnight, turning chicken occasionally.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin side down. Cook until skin is deep brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken, skin side up. Place skillet in oven. Roast chicken until cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.


Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and ground juniper. Sauté until onions are deep brown, about 45 minutes. Add broth. Boil until juices thicken, about 3 minutes. Mix in vinegar and chopped marjoram, then 1 tablespoon butter. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide Braised Blood Oranges and chicken among plates. Spoon some sauce over. Garnish with marjoram sprigs.



Read More


Dad’s Chili

After my first post and the fact that the impetus for this blog was the thought going into my dad’s chili recipe, the natural progression would be for me to post the recipe (plus some people have also requested it!). I don’t think I’m ready to post it yet! As I mentioned before, I have been on a 5 year long quest to perfect my (dad’s) own chili, and I don’t think I’m at the desired level of deliciousness that would be worthy to share. I find I have two main issues: density and intensity.

I have found in the past that my chili tends to be less soup-y than my dad’s, and more full of the good stuff (beef, beans, tomatoes). I tried this time  adding a can of water (you can do this with other soups!), which upon eating it I found to be too much. The liquid part of the broth seemed to lack a bit of flavor on its own, something I found disappointing, as I think it’s important for all components of a dish to stand on their own, at least to some degree.

Add more chili powder you say? That is precisely my other problem! I love the chili flavor, and use two varieties, one the standard chili powder available from any spice provider, and the second a “Hot” chile molido puro to add a bit of kick (if it gets too spicy, add ketchup!). My problem lies in the fact that I haven’t found a balance or quantity of the two chiles and don’t want the only taste you get is “TOO SPICY!!!!” (different from the slightly-too-spicy-add-ketchup spicy) and overwhelm the flavors of the aforementioned good stuff, and the mustard.

It is for these reasons that I am hesitant to post the recipe until I feel a bit more comfortable with my spice balance. Don’t get me wrong – this is not a hard meal (or a week’s worth, depending on how many people are eating, and how big your servings!) but I feel that for my first recipe there is a lot of pressure for it to be good! On the positive side, I did enjoy the flavor of the beef in this batch – just the right amount of cumin, and soft and tender. Perhaps due to the grain fed organic beef that the butcher gave me as he was out of the cheap stuff??? Lucky me!

The first post…

So I’ve been talking about starting a blog about food, and have begun a moderate (okay, minimal) amount of research of what a good blog contains, and hoping that one day I will be plucked from obscurity and a movie will be made about me. Fame aside, I saw a lot of really well-put together, well-written blogs and found myself feeling like I was nowhere near being ready to start blogging. Do I have the writing skills? What would be my edge? What is an SLR camera? Do I even have the right photography skills? To say the least, I was very intimidated.

In the name of research, I picked up 2 food-related magazines tonight at Whole Foods to peruse while I cooked my dad’s Chili recipe. As I flipped through Bon Appetit on the subway home, I was sucked into the world of food, tabbing pages for dishes to make, restaurants to try, and figuring out how I could get myself to the Italian coast as soon as possible. Arriving home super-enthused about the world of food, I scarfed down leftover pizza from Lombardi’s (it’s true, I basically held the two pieces, one in each hand, standing over the sink, and ate them both in about 3 minutes) and started on my dad’s Chili recipe. I love this recipe for many reasons – it reminds me of my childhood, its easy (and cheap) to make, plus it’s delicious. However, in the 5 years I’ve been making it, it still has yet to match the quality of my dad’s. So tonight I decided to write down how I made it, including any commentary along the way, and if it turned out better than the last batch then: success!! It was at this point that I realized that this was part of my own food experience, something I could share on say, a blog, and why should I let a total lack of blogging knowledge stop me?

So voila! Here is my first blog post. Please bear with me as I figure out how this blog thing works, and hopefully this can evolve into something, and not my own rambling stream of consciousness!!!