Category Archives: Side Dishes

passover seder

i hosted a passover seder for 17 people in my apartment this past tuesday and it was amazing! great food, friends and a great seder. for many who attended, it was their first seder, and they loved learning about the various symbols and traditions of the holiday. The meal was generously funded through Birthright NEXT, an organization that supports alumni of Birthright.

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i spent a long time planning the menu, and used a pinterest board to gather ideas. this is what i landed on:IMG_6204

this was the first year i’ve done passover away from home, so i didn’t have all of the necessary equipment, such as a seder plate. copying an idea i found on pinterest, i made my chalkboard cheeseboard into a seder plate!IMG_6206IMG_0007

the highlight of the menu for me was the homemade matzo. i’ve spent my entire life eating prepackaged matzo which tastes like cardboard. this homemade matzo is quick and easy to make, and tastes delicious! my roommates want me to make it year round. IMG_6065IMG_6066IMG_6078IMG_6081IMG_6106IMG_6082

i also started the meal with a haroset recipe from wolfgang puck and matzo ball soup from smitten kitchen, both of which were delicious. IMG_0014

 

and now for the main course…

 

 

 

IMG_0015the fan favorite main dish was the chicken marbella. i debated whether i needed to make a chicken in addition to the brisket, but i decided to go for it and i’m so glad i did! this may be the best chicken i’ve ever had. the prunes and apricots went well with the dried fruit in many of the other dishes. IMG_0006

for the brisket i went with the classic smitten kitchen recipe. my 12 lb brisket was so massive that i had to do half in the slow cooker and the other half in the oven. the slow cooker definitely won. the meat was tender and juicy and fell apart more easily. i was torn between doing brisket or short ribs, and i think i would do short ribs if i could do it again because they’re a bit easier to make and the recipe is more foolproof, meaning you can slightly over/under cook them and noboby will know.

for sides i went with a quinoa risotto recipes i’ve been making for years and tzimmes, a classic jewish dish of sweet potato and carrots with prunes. IMG_0020

for dessert, i made three of my flourless favorites:

pavlova, which is a gorgeous light and fluffy meringue with a crunchy exterior and soft marshmallow like interior topped with fresh whipped cream and berries. IMG_6207haroset truffles, which are an alternative version to the classic haroset with apples posted above. these are a mix of dates, apricots, pistachios and almonds, and rolled in coconut.  I ate all of these before i had a chance to take a picture :(

and last but certainly not least, chocolate toffee matzo, an ungodly mix of butter and sugar, chocolate and toppings. I did toasted almonds, sea salt and cystallized ginger. IMG_0001 IMG_0002 IMG_0003 IMG_0004 IMG_0005

passover is one of my favorite jewish holidays, and as you can tell, i went all out this year! even if you’re not jewish you will still enjoy these recipes (especially the chocolate matzo above).

bon appetit!

roasted eggplant with yogurt-tahini sauce and cumin-crisped chickpeas

One of my favorite finds in New Orleans so far has been the Hong Kong Market on the West Bank. It’s an awesome asian supermarket that fills my chinatown void and has some of the best produce in all of nola.

They have the most awesome selection of eggplants. Baby italian and indian eggplants and the long and slender asian ones. Whenever I make the trip over there, I always pick up an assortment of eggplants and run home to make this Smitten Kitchen cookbook recipe.IMG_3118

The combination of the roasted eggplant, thick and creamy yogurt tahini sauce, fresh parsley and crispy chickpeas is nothing short of perfection. It would be an awesome appetizer for a party, or a nice light dinner.

roasted eggplant with yogurt-tahini sauce and cumin-crisped chickpeasIMG_3122

1- 15.5 oz can of chickpeas, drained, patted dry on paper towels
5 tablespoons olive oil
Course or kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 pounds small italian eggplants

yogurt-tahini sauce

1/3 cup tahini
2/3 cup thick plain greek yogurt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/3 cup cold water
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

crisp chickpeasIMG_3116

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and toss the chickpeas with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, and ground cumin. Spread them on a baking sheet and roast them on the top rack for 30 to 40 minutes, shaking it every now and then until they are browned and crisp.

roast eggplantIMG_3120

Brush a large baking sheet with a generous tablespoon of oil. Halve the eggplants lengthwise, arrange them, cut side up, in one layer on oiled sheet. Brush the cut sides lightly with a little additional oil, and sprinkle them with generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 15 minutes and then flip them over and roast them for another 15 minutes.

while those are roasting, make the yogurt-tahini sauce

Whisk together tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and salt. The mixture will become very thick, so add water a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is smooth but thick.

to serveIMG_0014

Arrange the eggplant cut side up and dollop generously with yogurt-tahini sauce. Sprinkle with crisped chickpeas and parsley. Eat immediately. IMG_0013

bon appetit!

 

homemade hummus

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You’re probably starting to notice by now that I love making things at home that people typically buy, my favorites being granola, bread and now hummus.

I absolutely love hummus but it has gotten pretty expensive at the supermarket and is also pretty high in fat and calories, which can get dangerous since hummus is so addicting. It turns out, hummus is one of the easiest things to make and takes about five minutes at most, so there’s really no excuse. The hardest thing about this recipe is washing the bowl of the food processor at the end.

Once you’ve made it at home it will be hard to go back.

I’ve made hummus a few times before, but this time I decided to try something new. I made my own tahini, and I followed a recipe from Smitten Kitchen which says to remove the outer skin from each chickpea because it makes the hummus more smooth and creamy.

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I made this for a second time today and didn’t have the time to shell each chickpea. I think i’ll go back and forth, but definitely give it a try! I also added some chipotle peppers in adobo from the can to make it chipotle hummus, which was smoky and delicious. Hummus can be flavored in so many different ways: roasted red pepper, spinach, horseradish, harissa, the list goes on – get creative!

homemade hummus

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  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained but reserve the liquid for later
  • 1/2 cup tahini paste (either homemade or store bought)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more to taste
  • 2 small cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt, or more to taste
  • Approximately 1/4 cup water or reserved chickpea broth

To make homemade tahini, first preheat the oven to 350. Spread the sesame seeds on a shallow baking tray (I used about 2 cups worth that I bought in the bulk section) and bake, shaking frequently, until fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the sesame seeds to the bowl of a food processor and process for a minute or so. IMG_2081IMG_2082

Slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup of olive oil for every cup of seeds, pulse until a thick paste forms, scrape down the sides, and add more olive oil if needed until it reaches a consistency you like. Store in glass jar or tupperware tightly covered in refrigerator.IMG_2084

Drain the chickpeas (saving the chickpea broth for soups or to thin the hummus, if desired).

Whether fresh or canned chickpeas: Peel your chickpeas. IMG_2075

Here are the methods I found from the post and comments on Smitten Kitchen:

“take a chickpea between your thumb and next two fingers, arranging the pointy end in towards your palm, and “pop!” the naked chickpea out. Discard the skin.”

“lay them out on a papertowel and lay another towel on top. Roll your hands on top of the whole thing and the peels will kind of slide off under there.”

“fill a large bowl with water, dump in your cooked chickpeas, pick them up in handfuls and rub together, let the water settle and many of the skins will rise to the top where they can be drained off.”

In a food processor, blend the chickpeas until powdery clumps form, a full minute, scraping down the sides. IMG_2085

Add the tahini (pictured below is my homemade tahini which is darker than store bought), lemon juice, garlic and salt and blend until pureed. IMG_2086

With the machine running, drizzle in water or reserved chickpea liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you get very smooth, light and creamy mixture. I find I need about 4 tablespoons for this volume, but you may need slightly more or less.IMG_2088

Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt or lemon if needed. Hold off on adding more garlic because Deb says the garlic flavor gets stronger as it sits in the fridge. This is also where you can add the additional flavors I talked about earlier. Click here if you need some flavor inspiration.

Bon Appetit!

 

simple spanakopita

I love small plates, family style dinners because they offer variety to suit all tastes, can easily be scaled up or down to accommodate unplanned dinner guests, and allow you to experiment with different recipes and cuisines. One of my favorite house dinners this past year was our Greek inspired night: spanakopita (spinach phyllo pie), avgolemono soup (greek chicken lemon soup), roasted eggplant dip, and toasted pita. The spanakopita looks super impressive but is simple to prepare with the help of olive oil spray, and I promise the phyllo dough isn’t as difficult to work with as everyone makes it out to be! It just takes a little bit of practice, like anything else. The spinach filling is jazzed up with the addition of feta and golden raisins, which give it a nice sweetness in contrast to the savory garlic and spinach. Other great additions to round out this meal include roasted eggplant dipmarinated peppers, celery and orange salad, spicy carrot salad and melon with honeyed yogurt, which all come from the June 2009 Everyday Food magazine!

simple spanakopita

Adapted from Martha Stewart

ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 packages (20 ounces each) baby spinach
  • 1 cup crumbled feta (4 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins, chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 20 sheets frozen phyllo dough (from an 8-ounce package), thawed and cut to 8 by 12 inches

directions:

In a medium pan, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and cook until golden, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl. Return pan to heat. Working in batches, cook spinach, tossing, until wilted, about 1 minute. Drain spinach and let cool. Press out excess moisture, then roughly chop. Add spinach, feta, and raisins to bowl with onion and season filling with salt and pepper. (To store, refrigerate, up to 2 days.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll phyllo. Place 1 sheet on a work surface (keep remaining sheets covered with a damp kitchen towel to prevent drying); spray with oil. Lay another sheet on top and spray with oil. Repeat until you have 10 layers of phyllo.

Spread half of filling lengthwise down middle of phyllo stack.

Roll into a log, brushing the seam with oil before sealing.

Spray log with oil. Using a small sharp knife, make 8 diagonal cuts on top. Repeat with remaining phyllo and filling.

Place logs, seam side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until deep golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Cut into slices along slashes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I served it with Avgolemono soup too: 

Bon Appetit!

light seven layer dip

I made this dip for the first time during the Superbowl this year and it was such a hit that I’ve been asked to make it again for almost every party I’ve had since. It looks really great in a clear glass bowl because you can see all of the layers, which I’ve tried to photograph for you to see. It’s really filling, and is a great way to put together the cheese, beans, guacamole, salsa, and cilantro that you would have already bought for any Mexican fiesta. This can be scooped up with chips or used as a topping or filling for tacos, quesadillas, burritos and more. I usually make the guacamole and salsa myself, but this can also be made in a pinch by buying premade guacamole, salsa and pre-shredded cheese. Enjoy!

seven layer dip

Adapted from Ezra Pound Cake

Layer 1: Beans

  • 2, 16-oz cans black beans (or 1 can black beans and 1 can pinto beans), drained
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • pinch of salt

Combine the beans, chili powder and salt in a small bowl. Mash lightly with a fork, if you like. Transfer the beans to an 8-inch square dish or glass bowl of a similar size.

Layer 2: Sour Cream and Cheese

  • 1 cup light sour cream (or greek yogurt)
  • 2 cups freshly grated cheese (cheddar or pepper jack)

In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and cheese. Spread the mixture evenly over the bean layer.

Layer 3: Guacamole

  • 2 avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 tomato, cored, seeded and diced

Mash avocados, lime juice, garlic and salt. Stir in the red onion and tomatoes. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Spread the guacamole over the sour cream mixture.

Layer 4: Simple Salsa

  • 3 large tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, jalapeños and fresh cilantro. Layer the salsa over the guacamole.

Layers 5, 6 & 7:

  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Up to 1/4 cup grated cheese (cheddar or pepper jack)

Sprinkle scallions over the salsa. Add as much cilantro confetti as you like. Top the scallions with the cheese of your choice.

Suggestion: Serve this with a big spoon so that people can scoop all the way down to the beans.

Now kick back and have a corona, it’s mexican fiesta time!

summer dining: greek style mixed grill kebobs and pine nut orzo salad

It is hard to believe that it’s June already, and summer is just around the corner! Summer has always been my favorite season for a multitude of reasons: my birthday, no school, picnics, barbecues, swimming in outdoor pools, running and biking along the Hudson, lightweight colorful dresses, fresh and simple outdoor meals, farmers market trips, the list goes on!

Today I am going to share with you a delicious meal that is a perfect excuse to dust off your grill and outdoor dining set and invite some friends over for an al fresco dinner!

greek style mixed grill kebobs and pine nut orzo salad

Sourced from Rachael Ray, Serves 4

Ingredients for kebobs:

  • 4 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 4 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves stripped and finely chopped
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green olive tapenade
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 lemons, juiced and 1 zested
  • 1/3 plus 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds firm white flesh fish, halibut or swordfish, cut into 12 (2-inch) chunks (I used shrimp instead)
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 12 (2-inch) chunks
  • Black pepper
Ingredients for orzo salad:
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 8 Greek hot peppers, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, for garnish
  • 2 tomatoes, diced, for garnish
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced, for garnish

Directions:

Preheat grill pan or outdoor grill to medium high. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water to prevent burning.

Place a pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil for the pasta salad. When the water boils, salt it and cook the pasta to al dente.

While the pasta cooks, in a small bowl combine the garlic, oregano, rosemary, tapenade, red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon lemon zest and the juice of 1 lemon with about 1/3 cup olive oil. 

Place the fish and chicken in separate shallow dishes or bowls and season with salt and pepper then divide the dressing between the bowls and coat the fish and chicken evenly.

Skewer the fish and chicken on metal or soaked wooden skewers.

Grill the chicken 10 to 12 minutes until firm and juices run clear, and the fish for about 6 to 8 minutes, turning the kabobs frequently.

Drain orzo and combine with pine nuts, onions, parsley, feta crumbles, the juice of 1 lemon, about 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

Serve the orzo salad with 3 pieces each of chicken and fish along side. Garnish plates with a couple of hot peppers, olives, tomatoes and cucumbers on each plate.

I didn’t get a picture of a finished plate because it was so delicious that we dug in immediately, but you should be able to get an idea from the pictures I took while cooking that this was an absolutely delectable meal. The shrimp/chicken were packed with flavor from the tapenade, fresh herbs, spices and lemon juice, and the orzo salad was so light and fresh from the cucumbers, feta, tomatoes and had a nice crunch from the pine nuts. That salad alone would make an excellent addition to any picnic.

Bon appetit!

citrus salad, herbed quinoa and baked tilapia

I love to watch the food network while i’m running on the treadmill at the gym because i get absorbed in the show and before I know it, I’ve run for 30 minutes! Sometimes I get lucky and find inspiration for dinner. These recipes came from an episode of Giada that focused on light & healthy cooking. I made them for my housemates and they were a huge hit! The citrus salad has become a mainstay. Enjoy!

Caramelized Onion, Fennel and Grapefruit Salad

From Giada on the Food Network

Caramelized onions, fennel and grapefruit-what could be bad? This salad is light and refreshing, a nice fusion of sweet, crunchy and tart. It would be a great addition to a summer picnic.

From the Food Network

Ingredients

Caramelized onions:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, very thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Dressing:

Salad:

  • 2 pink grapefruits
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, thinly sliced or torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Directions:

For the caramelized onions: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.

For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, lemon juice and honey. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until blended. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

For the salad: Peel and trim the ends from each grapefruit. Using a paring knife, cut along the membrane on both sides of each segment. Free the segments and add them to a large salad bowl. Add the lettuce, fennel, cucumber, scallions, and thyme.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Arrange the caramelized onions on top and serve.

Herbed Quinoa

From Giada on the Food Network

Quinoa is a superfood and I try to incorporate it into my diet as often as possible. The fresh herbs add a wonderful fragrance and freshness, which really dresses up the quinoa. This is a great high protein side dish.

Ingredients:

Quinoa:

  • 2 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

For the quinoa: In a medium saucepan, add the chicken stock, lemon juice and quinoa. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 12 to 15 minutes.

For the dressing: In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, basil, parsley, thyme, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour the dressing over the quinoa and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

Baked Tilapia

Tilapia is a great inexpensive white fish that takes on whatever flavor you want to give it. We always have fillets in the freezer at my house which come in handy when i don’t have much time to prepare dinner. This fish is lemony and a little spicy and is ready in minutes!

Ingredients

  • 4 tilapia fillets (6 ounces each)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted (margarine or butter substitutes work too)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika

Directions

  • Place tilapia in an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the butter, lemon juice, garlic powder and salt; pour over the fillets. Sprinkle with capers, oregano and paprika.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 425° for 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

These three recipes come together to make a light and delicious dinner that is equally impressive and easy!

keep calm and gobble on

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. What could possibly be better than delicious hearty food, pie, family, friends, and most of all tradition? Nothing. Every year my family spends thanksgiving at our very good family friend’s house in the village just a few blocks from home. We split up some of the cooking. My mom and I made green beans, pear crumble pie and a curried quinoa butternut squash salad to bring.

Garlic-Roasted Green Beans with Shallots and Almonds

(Makes 4 servings)

Ingredients:
1 lb. fresh green beans
6 shallots, peeled, and cut into thin slivers
5 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut into thin slices
2 T olive oil
1 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, very finely chopped
1/4 cup almonds, chopped (I used sliced almonds and only slightly chopped them)
1 tsp. lemon zest

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Trim ends from green beans.

2. Peel and cut shallots and garlic, then place with beans in a bowl. Add olive oil, salt and pepper, and use a wooden spoon to toss until beans, shallots, and garlic are well coated with oil.

3. Spray roasting pan with nonstick spray or mist with olive oil, then arrange the vegetable in a single layer. (I like to cover the plan with foil and spray the foil for easy clean-up). Roast 12-15 minutes or slightly longer, until beans are slightly shriveled, and shallots and garlic are lightly browned.

4. While beans cook, toss together chopped parsley, chopped almonds, and lemon zest. When beans are done, toss hot beans with parsley/lemon/almond mixture and serve immediately.

Curried Quinoa with Chickpeas and Butternut Squash

(8 servings)

Ingredients:
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided (1/2 tablespoon=1 1/2 tsp)
1 tablespoon honey
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp cumin
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp mustard powder
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Mix the squash with half the olive oil, 1 tablespoon of honey, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread onto a foil covered baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, turn and bake for an additional 15 minutes until tender. Set aside.

hmm honey

ready for roastin'

2. Combine chickpeas with remaining olive oil (1.5 tsp), cumin, salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread onto a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes or until slightly crunchy and heated. Set aside.

3. While squash and beans are cooling, combine quinoa, water, curry powder and mustard powder in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 12-15 minutes.

4. Combine cooked quinoa with squash, chickpeas and pumpkin seeds. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Vanilla and Pear Crumble Pie

Ingredients:
1 deep dish pie shell (can use frozen or make your own)

For filling:
5 pears, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup natural cane sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1/2 a vanilla bean split lengthwise and seeds scraped out)

For crumble:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325 F. In a large bowl combine pears, flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Use your hands or a spoon to carefully combine the ingredients together, making sure the pears don’t break apart. Set aside.

Thinly sliced

2. In a smaller bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar and butter. Using a pastry cutter or fork, combine the mixture until it resembles large crumbs.

Pre-butter

hmmm

yum large crumbs

3. Place the pie tin on a rimmed cookie sheet. Spoon the filling into the pie shell. Top with the crumble mixture. Your pie should be very tall and overflowing. The rimed cookie sheet will catch any spillage.

Ready for the oven

4. Cover the exposed pie shell with thin strips of foil. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes.

The food was INCREDIBLE. We were all in severe food comas by the end, but it was well worth it. Here are some pictures from our beautiful thanksgiving feast:

Cranberry mold

turkey lurkey

cranberry stuffing

wild rice salad with cranberries and nuts

sweet potatoes covered with marshmellows and pecans

my grandmother's cranberry sauce (recipe to come)

my glorious plate

birds eye view of the table part 1

part 2

part 3

And of course, no thanksgiving is complete without an assortment of desserts….

pumpkin cheesecake (recipe to come)

classic pumpkin pie

chocolate pecan pie

And just for good measure, here are some pictures I dug up from thanksgiving last year:

turkey day

best ever roasted vegetables

homemade popovers!

table shot

check out the cranberry mold

tablescape 2

no thanksgiving is complete without pumpkin pie

Hope you all had wonderful thanksgiving feasts with your family and friends! I’m already counting down the days until next year.

teriyaki salmon and roasted asparagus

nothing better than salmon, asparagus and crusty french bread

As a busy college student I find myself making a lot of chicken and pasta because it’s quick and easy. And then sometimes a light bulb goes off and I remember that making fish is even quicker and more delicious, and I run to the Wegman’s seafood counter to see what’s fresh.

This week the salmon fillets called to me, so I decided on a healthy meal of salmon and asparagus. The salmon was infused with this fantastic sweet and gingery flavor from letting it marinate. And even people who don’t like asparagus will like these. They are crunchy, lemony, and a little salty from the capers. Delicious!

Broiled Salmon Teriyaki
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:
Boneless salmon fillet (with or without skin depending on preference)
I used Trader Joes Soyaki teriyaki sauce, but if you want to make your own:
for 6 fillets:
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or mild vinegar
1 inch peeled giner, sliced
3 garlic cloves, smashed

Directions:

1. Whisk the soy sauce, honey, and lemon juice together in a large enough dish to fit the the salmon. Stir in the ginger and garlic. Place the salmon, skin side up, in the sauce and marinate for at least 10 or up to 30 minutes. If using pre-made teriyaki sauce, just place the salmon in that.

2. Preheat a broiler to very hot. Remove the salmon from the marinade, pat it dry with paper towels, and place it skin side down on an oiled pan or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cook until it is slightly firm to the touch, and flakes easily when pressed, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness. While the salmon is cooking, brush it a couple of times with the marinade. Immediately remove the skin while the fish is hot (if applicable), and serve.

Roasted Asparagus with Capers and Lemon
Recipe from Martha Stewart

Pictures by Beanca Nicholson: donnya-ma.

Ingredients:
1 bunch asparagus (trimmed)
1/8 cup salt-packed capers, rinsed well, soaked, and drained
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
garnish: lemon wedges

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange asparagus and capers evenly on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper (for easy clean up). Drizzle with oil, turning asparagus to coat. Season with salt and sprinkle with red-pepper flakes. Squeeze some lemon juice on top.

2. Roast, shaking sheet once, until asparagus is crisp-tender and golden at the tips, 12 to 16 minutes. Let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with lemon wedges.

———–

These last few weeks have been full of cooking and going out to eat, so here are some pictures and more from all of my activities…

I took a great Indian cooking class on campus last week. I don’t have all of the recipes, but I took pictures:

Naan

Creamy pumpkin soup

Stuffed eggplant with rice and melted cheese

Spicy tofu & vegetable green curry with vermicelli noodles

Smoked eggplant dip

Smoked Eggplant (Bhartoo)

1 eggplant (cut in half, smear with oil and bake in a toaster oven at 400 F for 45 mins)
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp (or more) chili paste
salt to taste
1 cap of hickory smoke liquid
When the eggplant is cooked, let cool. Then scoop the flesh out and chop finely.
Add other ingredients and serve.

Lucy and I also went out to brunch at Cafe Dewitt, which was voted best brunch in Ithaca and I got one of their specials. It was fantastic to say the least.

Hazelnut waffle with praline cream and fresh raspberries

In non-food related news, I got a kitten! Introducing the love of my life, Zara:

1 lb, 5 oz of cuteness

Thanks for reading!

Shabbat Dinner Party

Last Friday I hosted a Shabbat dinner for 15 of my closest friends. Through a friend at Cornell I found out about this program called Birthright Israel NEXT, which is for alumni of Birthright Israel. One of their programs is called Birthright NEXT Shabbat, which allows alumni of Birthright to host Shabbat dinners that are paid for by their generous donors. This was obviously a dream come true for me as I was able to cook an elaborate dinner for 15 of my friends at no cost to me, which would have been very expensive otherwise. The cool thing about the program is that they give you no rules or restrictions-this was Shabbat my way. I chose the menu, hand picked the wines, and was even able to buy tablecloths and other decorations to make it special. Thankfully my sister was able to come visit me for the weekend and made a wonderful sous chef/kitchen helper extraordinaire. I spent a while thinking about what I wanted to make and looking at all of my favorite food blogs for inspiration. I knew I had a few dietary restrictions to accommodate: vegetarian, gluten free and kosher, which made it a little trickier as well. In the end I decided on curry mustard chicken, mustard roasted potatoes, oven roasted vegetables, turmeric Israeli couscous with caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes, roasted tomatoes and cipollini onions, quinoa salad, and chocolate soufflé cupcakes with mint crème for dessert. I knew this was ambitious, seeing as I had never thrown a dinner party all by myself before, but I was up for the challenge.

Mara and I spent the night before cutting vegetables and prepping the rest of the ingredients so that we could have everything ready to go for Friday.

The final recipe selection

Intense food shopping experience

Roasted Vegetables
-bunch of carrots, cut into sticks
-parsnips, cut into sticks
-beets, quartered
-butternut squash, cut into pieces
-acorn squash, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 400˚ and line baking sheets with parchment paper or foil. On one of them put the beets (It’s best to cook them separately so they don’t stain everything pink). On another put the squash, carrots, and parsnips. Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and toss so that everything is thinly coated. Add some freshly ground pepper and salt and place in the oven for 30 minutes or until tender when stuck with a fork. The different vegetables may vary in cooking times so be sure to check frequently. Also reach in and shake everything around every 5-10 minutes.

Mara peeling carrots and parsnips

beets!

Prepped vegetables

peeling and cutting beets and staining my hands in the process

Roasted Tomatoes and Cipollini Onions

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 pound cipollini onions
1 pound small Roma or large cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
Coarse salt
Few fresh basil leaves, slivered

Preheat oven to 375°F. Boil a small pot of water and blanche the cipollini for 10 seconds, then plunging them into cold water. Use a paring knife to make a small slit in each, and slide them out of their skins and outer layer.

Spread peeled onions and tomatoes in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and a few good pinches of coarse salt. Toss everything together until well-coated and roast in preheated oven for about 45 minutes, reaching in every 15 minutes with a spatula to roll the tomatoes and onions around to ensure all sides get blistered. Sprinkle the dish with the basil and eat at once.

Mustard Roasted Potatoes

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 10 servings

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1/2 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick or 1/2 ounce) butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
3 pounds 1- to 1 1/2-inch-diameter mixed unpeeled red-skinned and white-skinned potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch-wide wedges

Position 1 rack in top third of oven and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 425°F. Spray 2 large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray. Whisk mustard, olive oil, butter, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, lemon peel, and salt in large bowl to blend. Add potatoes; sprinkle generously with freshly ground black pepper and toss to coat. Divide potatoes between prepared baking sheets, leaving any excess mustard mixture behind in bowl. Spread potatoes in single layer. Roast potatoes 20 minutes. Reverse baking sheets and roast until potatoes are crusty outside and tender inside, turning occasionally, about 25 minutes longer. Transfer potatoes to serving bowl.

Spice mix

whole grain dijon mustard

coating the potatoes in the mustard mixture

Curried Honey Mustard Chicken

Adapted from All Recipes.com and Nancy Dorfman-Tandlich

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/3 cup butter, melted or ¼ cup olive oil
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup Dijon-style prepared mustard
1-2 tablespoons curry powder
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
teaspoon of salt

In a medium bowl combine the oil or melted butter/margarine, honey, mustard curry powder and cayenne powder and salt. Mix well. Place chicken breasts in a 9×13 inch baking dish and pour honey/mustard mixture over chicken. Cover and place in refrigerator. Marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 375˚. Bake for 15 minutes covered and then uncovered until cooked through.

Marinating Chicken

Israeli Couscous with Turmeric, Caramelized Onions, and Tomatoes

(I think this was my favorite dish of the night!)

Adapted from this food blog

8 oz. Israeli Couscous
3 cups chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large yellow onions (Spanish or sweet), halved and sliced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

Bring chicken broth with garlic cloves to a boil. Once boiling, add couscous and cook until al dente (mine cooked for approximately 5 minutes.) The couscous absorbed all of the chicken broth so there was no need to drain.

Meanwhile, caramelize the onions.  Heat the olive oil in a large, wide skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Saute, tossing occasionally with tongs, for about 15 minutes.  Sprinkle in the brown sugar, balsamic, turmeric, and 1/4 teaspoon more salt, and continue cooking, and giving a stir or two, over this assertive heat for 5 more minutes.  Then reduce the heat to low and cook, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes longer, or until very soft, glisteny, and sweet.

Stir in the cooked couscous, top with the tomatoes, and serve warm, or at room temperature.

Chocolate Souffle Cupcakes with Mint Creme

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used bittersweet)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon espresso or instant coffee powder
3 large eggs, separated
6 tablespoons  sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 ounces heavy whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract

Make cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9 standard-size (3-ounce) muffin cups with paper liners. Stir chocolate, butter and espresso powder together in heavy medium saucepan over low heat mostly melted, then remove from the heat and whisk until it is fully melted and smooth. (I like to put the butter underneath the chocolate in the pan, so that it protects the chocolate from the direct heat.) Cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally.

Using electric mixer (a hand mixer, rather than a stand mixer, actually works best here because the volumes are so small) beat egg yolks and 3 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until mixture is very thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Briefly beat lukewarm chocolate mixture, then vanilla extract, into yolk mixture. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and all of the salt, beating until medium-firm peaks form. Fold whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Divide batter among prepared cups, filling each three-fourths of the way.

Bake cakes until tops are puffed and dry to the touch (some may crack) and a tester inserted into the centers comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a cooling rack, where the cupcakes will almost immediately start to fall. It will be all the better to put your mint cream on them.

Beat cream and peppermint extract with electric beaters until soft peaks form. Remove cupcakes from pan, arrange on a platter. Fill each sunken top with a healthy dollop of  mint cream. Top with shaved dark chocolate, if you’re feeling fancy. You won’t be able to stop at just one.

DELICIOUS

Okay! So there you have all of the recipes and pictures I took while prepping. Now here are some pictures from the actual dinner:

Jenna and I saying the blessing over the candles

Nathan saying the blessing over the challah

a plate of my hard work

The whole group!

In the end, all of the hard work was well worth it. The food was delicious and my friends had such a good time. It was one of my favorite nights at school so far and a memory I will never forget. Thanks to Birthright Israel Next, to my sister for all her help and to all of my friends for making this Shabbat so special!