Saturday, December 2, 2017

Boom Palaak Chat Boom

So good.  For those of us who love palaak chaat and those of us who will learn to love it.  Relatively simple and delicious.  The only thing that takes time is the drying and frying of spinach.   The sauce is easy and tasty.

Palaak Chaat


  • Frying oil
  • 1/2 bag spinach
  • 1/2 c. Greek Yogurt
  • 4 dates, pitted, chopped fine
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • Few tablespoons of pico del gallo or mild tomato salsa
  • 1/2 shallot, minced


  1. Dry the spinach.  Take it out and spread it out on paper towels or dish towels.  Make sure it's relatively dry because you're going to fry it and spinach contains a lot of water.
  2. Sauce: In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, dates, coriander, cumin, curry powder, lemon juice.  Mix well.  It should be a slightly runny.  If not, add a small amount of water to mix.
  3. Frying: Use a deep fryer, or in a small pot fill oil to 1/2" inch and put over medium high heat.
  4. In small batches, add spinach to the frying oil and be careful as it will spatter.  Fry for 30-60 seconds depending on heat of the oil.  Place the fried spinach on paper towels to dry.  Repeat with the rest of the spinach.
  5. Plating: Put the leaves on a plate and drizzle with the yogurt sauce.  Top with the pico de gallo and minced shallot.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Sausage, Tomato, & Greens Risotto

Haven't made risotto in a while, and it's a little cool out so why not make a hearty, but not too over the top risotto.  I had some Italian sausage and it offers a nice base flavor on a rainy, fall night.

And the puppy liked the smell, too


  • 1 24-28oz can/box of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 c. water
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1 # Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 Tb fennel seed
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 c. risotto
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 3 c. leafy greens (spinach, arugula, whatever you like)
  • 1/2 c. grated parmesan + more
  • tasty olive oil to drizzle for taste


  1. Put the chopped tomatoes and water in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer.  Leave at a simmer while you start the risotto.
  2. Put a large saute/sauce pan over medium heat.  Heat the oil and then add the sausage and onion. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring, so the sausage is no longer pink and the onion is starting to be translucent.
  3. Add the garlic, fennel seed, salt & pepper to taste to the sausage & onions and continue to saute for 1 minute.
  4. Add the risotto and saute for 1-2 minutes, stirring.
  5. Add the white wine and saute for 1-2 minutes until the wine is mostly absorbed.
  6. Add 1 c. of the tomato/water mixture to the risotto and stir until mostly absorbed.  
  7. Repeat adding the tomato/water mixture in 1 c. increments and stir until mostly absorbed.  Make sure the risotto doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.  Continue this process until the tomato/water mixture is gone and absorbed by the risotto.
  8. Lower the heat to a simmer and slowly add the small amounts of the greens to the risotto.  Mix the greens in until they wilt and then repeat adding more of the greens in the same way until all are absorbed.
  9. Add parmesan to the risotto and mix.
  10. Serve and add more parmesan and oil as desired.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Nuts and Creme Fraiche Coffee Cake

I got on a coffee cake making binge recently.  I remembered enjoying them as a kid, but in all of the years I've been cooking, I never made one myself.  Yes, they might seem plebian, but they also offer a simple pleasure.  Why not enjoy them?
There are some extremely simple coffee cake recipes that are pretty good, but for a little more effort, I think this one is worth the effort.



  • 5 Tb butter
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. crushed, toasted almonds
  • 4 Tb. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • 1 c. pecans, toasted
  • 3 Tb brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp all spice


  • 1 1/2 c. butter, cubed
  • 1 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 c. crushed, toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 Tb baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 8-12 oz vanilla creme fraiche


  • 1 c. confectioner's sugar
  • 3 Tb cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tb. butter, cubed


  1. Crumble:  In a food processor, combine the butter, flour, almonds, sugar, and salt. Pulse to combine the ingredients together until everything is well combined and moistened. Allow a few small bits of butter to remain. Cover until needed.
  2. Streusel. In a food processor, combine the pecans, sugar, cinnamon, all spice, and nutmeg and pulse until the pecans are ground, but not becoming a paste. Set aside.
  3. Cake: Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 350°F.
  4. Line and grease a 10-inch round cake pan or spring form pan – Use butter to lightly grease the pan and use parchment paper to line the pan for the best results.
  5. Cream the butter, sugar, and salt on medium-high speed in a mixer until light and fluffy and the sugar begins to dissolve into the butter. 
  6. Slowly pour in the beaten eggs, mixing well before pouring more in. 
  7. Add the flours, hazelnut meal, baking powder, and baking soda and mix well.
  8. Add in the crème fraiche and mix until incorporated.
  9. Scoop half of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it with a small offset spatula.
  10. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top of the batter.
  11. Top with the rest of the batter, coaxing it into covering the streusel layer. Top with the crumble.
  12. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until fully baked through. Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes.
  13. Place a flat plate on top of the cake and pan. Carefully invert the cake onto the plate by flipping both upside down. Then lift the pan off the cake.
  14. Gently pull the parchment paper away from the cake. Rest the serving plate on the bottom of the cake and turn the cake right-side up onto the plate.
  15. Icing: In a small bowl, combine the sugar, butter, vanilla and cream.  Stir well to make an icing.
  16. Spread the icing over the top of the cake before serving.

Cranberry-Pomegranate Sauce

Thanksgiving always brings out the cranberries.  Sometimes they are looked with scorn, but they can be made into something tasty.   I do appreciate the sweet & tart aspect of cranberries as it is present in several other excellent foods like pomegranates and tamarind.   No tamarind in this recipe, however.  Some traditions have to be preserved.


  • 1 12 oz. bag of cranberries
  • 1/2 c. pomegranate juice
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 Tb good honey
  • 3 Tb pomegranate molasses
  • Zest of a lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of ground clove


  1. Rinse cranberries and put them in a saucepan with the pomegranate juice.  Turn heat to medium-low.
  2. Add the sugar, honey, molasses, lemon zest, salt and clove to the pan. Cook for 30-40 minutes until the cranberries pop and the sauce thickens.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Coconut Fried Rice

To some extent, coconut rice is partially fried in that you should always fry some onions with it at the start.  But, to be honest, it's even better if you also fry some veggies and then fry everything together later.

Jasmine rice is most commonly used because of its starchy qualities.  It absorbs the coconut flavor well and cooks relatively quickly.  I also use Basmati at times, just because I love the flavor of Basmati and it doesn't conflict with the coconut.   It's truly up to you what sort flavor palette you want.   You will have to add a bit more liquid if you choose to use Basmati.


Rice part

  • 1 Tb coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2c. rice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 c. chicken stock

Frying part

  • 3 Tb coconut oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 Tb chopped ginger
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • handful of bean sprouts
  • 1 c. frozen peas
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 scallions, cut into 1/4" sections
  • 2 Tb thin soy sauce
  • 3 Tb fish sauce
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro or basil


  1. First, cook the rice.  In a sauce pan, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, tumeric & salt and cook the onion for a couple minutes until translucent.
  2. Add the rice and stir with the onion for 1-2 minutes.  
  3. Add the coconut milk and stock and cover.  Increase the heat to high.  When steam starts to emerge from under the cover, turn down to simmer and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
  4. Spread the rice out on a baking sheet to cool after cooking.  Refrigerate if not finishing for a while.
  5. Second, fry time.  In a large wok or sauce pan, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat.  When ready, reduce the heat to medium and add the onion and tumeric.  Cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the carrots and bean sprouts and continue cooking until sprouts begin to welt.
  7. Add the peas and eggs and stir.  Cook until eggs begin to set.
  8. Add the rice and mix well.  Cook for a couple minutes until rice begins to warm.
  9. Add the soy sauce, fish sauce and mix.  Cook for 2 minutes.
  10. Add the fresh herbs and mix.  Continue to cook for a couple minutes until herbs wilt.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Duck Breast with Garam Masala, Tamarind and Five-Spice

Chinese Five-Spice and duck are pretty standard honestly, but I think bringing a bit of other parts of Asia will only serve to expand the flavor realm.  If you have it in your pantry, why not?  It's not true of all spices you might have, but these should work together nicely.
The Five-Spice is the dry rub for the duck, but making a tamarind and garam masala sauce to go along with it is quite nice.



  • 3 Tb. tamarind concentrate
  • 4 Tb. water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tb palm sugar, broken up if in the little hemispheres


  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp five-spice powder


  1. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, put the tamarind and water until simmering.  
  2. Mix in the salt, garam masala, red pepper flakes and sugar.  Simmer over medium-low heat for 5-8 minutes and then cool.
  3. Score the fat on the duck breasts.  Rub the salt and five-spice powder into the scored fat.
  4. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat.  Place the duck skin side down and sear for 5-8 minutes. During the time, periodically remove fat from the pan and reserve.  You want to sear the fat back, not fry it.
  5. Flip the duck breasts over and sear the other side for 3 minutes.  Place the duck breasts aside and let sit for 5+ minutes before carving.
  6. Reheat the sauce slightly and serve.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Roasted Butternut Squash, Red Onions and Nuts

Once autumn hits, it's roasting and braising time.  We all love root vegetables, but squash has its uses.  This is an adaptation from a fine New York Times recipe.  I felt a bit more acid, nuts and herbs was needed from the original recipe



Olive oil
4 large red onions
4# butternut squash, cut into ½” sections
1/3 c. pine nuts
1/3 c. pistachios, shelled
2 Tb parsley, chopped
1 Tb mint, chopped


¼ c. tahini
3 Tb lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed


1. Heat oven to 475 degrees. Lightly coat two large baking sheets with olive oil.
2. Peel onions, leaving root ends intact. Cut each onion in half from stem to root. Cut each half into 4 wedges, leaving the root intact so that each wedge holds together. Spread on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil.
3. Put the squash in a large mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and about 1/4 teaspoon pepper; toss to coat. Spread on a baking sheet, peel side down (if intact).
4. Place both pans in oven and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until the vegetables have taken on some color and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions, as they may cook faster than the squash and need to be removed earlier.
5. For nuts, pour 1 tablespoon oil into a small frying pan and place over medium-low heat. Add nuts and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, until the nuts are golden brown and smell toasty. Immediately remove from the heat and dump onto a cutting board to stop the cooking. If using pistachios, chop coarsely when cool enough to handle.
6. To make tahini sauce, place tahini in a bowl. Add lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk until sauce is the consistency of honey, adding more water or a tablespoon of olive oil if necessary.
7. When the vegetables are cooked, set aside until ready to serve. (The vegetables should be served the same day they are made. They can be served at warm room temperature, or reheated just before serving.)
8. To serve, combine vegetables on a large serving platter. If using tahini sauce, drizzle on top. Sprinkle herbs and, if using, nuts on top and serve.