Monthly Archives: August 2013

Easy Weeknight Dinner

I am always trying to figure out good quick things to make for dinner on weeknights. After work I often don’t have time to do something elaborate but I don’t want to eat unhealthy things either. There are some general foods that I always keep on hand which I am slowly profiling in my Kitchen Essentials Series which are a great base for a lot of my weeknight eating. I am also always trying to think of what foods I can make that I can turn the leftovers into something nice for lunch the next day.

So take a quick peek into some of the weeknight meals I have been making these past few months and maybe they can help you come up with some ideas for your own weeknight dinners.

Healthy dinnersGrilled hearts of romaine, dried fig, blue cheese, with a balsamic vinaigrette


Homemade falafel from Jerusalem: A Cookbook, homemade hummus, and whole wheat tortilla

Healthy dinners
Healthy dinnersChopped kale salad, with parsley, cucumber, grilled onions, left over falafel, and feta cheese with a tahini, hummus, basamic, dressing

UntitledRandom left overs and pantry staples of: Pasta, Ricotta, Harissa, and Basil Paste mixed into a great quick meal

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The Summer’s Bounty


Ah summer the glories of the beach, a farmers market on my street on weekends, sunshine, deliciously fresh corn, suntans, fresh tomatoes, relaxation, and beers on roofs.


Sometimes with the bounty of summer fruits and vegetables the best thing to do to enjoy them is a simple preparation that really showcases the fresh food. One of the great preparations for fresh tomatoes is a Caprese salad.


Caprese is so easy to make just take your fresh sliced tomatoes, sliced Mozzarella and layer them tomato mozzarella tomato. Chiffonade some fresh basil sprinkle on top with some salt, pepper, and olive oil and enjoy!

Remember sometimes the best preparation for summers bounty is the simplest.

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Weekend Brunch: Shakshuka

ShashushkaAs I have mentioned numerous times on this blog I love brunch/ breakfast foods I really really do. When I am home on the weekend it is one of my favorite things in the world to make a delicious breakfast and a full french press of coffee and catch up on some TV, Podcasts, etc. from the past week. It is a great way to get into the weekend mood and wind down from the work week.

This past weekend I went full force both days on, Saturday I made the Mushroom English Muffin that I posted last weekend and on Sunday, since I had some tomato ‘sauce’ left over and had just made harissa, I thought it would be great to make Shakshuka. I also had recently bought a mini cast iron pan for spice toasting etc. so that turned out to be the perfect vessel for this delicious breakfast.

If you are unfamiliar with Shakshuka it is a popular breakfast/ lunch food that originated in North Africa just as Harissa. If you want more information about Shakshuka and other variations you can check out this video from the NY Times, the recipes in both Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi and Jerusalem A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi amongst other places on the interwebs.

While I made this for one person this is a food that is easy to scale up for more people making it a great, easy, and impressive food to make for when you have friends over for brunch. Another thing that makes this dish amazing is that you can very it in so many ways, as long as you have some tomatoes around you can make all sorts of variations based on what you have on hand.



Serves 1

1 egg

1 shallot sliced

1 clove garlic minced

1/4 can of crushed tomatoes (I used San Marzano)

1 bay leaf

1tbsp harissa

1tbsp butter

Salt to taste

Pepper to Taste

4 leaves chiffonaded basil

1 toasted english muffin or any other bread or pita

Finishing salt if desired

Small sauce pan

Lid to fit pan


Heat up your small sauce pan and add the butter and garlic

Saute the garlic until light brown then add the crushed tomatoes

To the tomatoes add the bay leaf, some salt, and pepper

Let everything simmer together for about 5 minutes on low while stiring occasionally

Add in the Harissa and Shallot and simmer for another 5 minutes or so

Remove the bay leaf and add in the basil

Create a small indentation in the sauce and add the egg

Keeping the heat on low and cover with the lid

Let cook for about 10 – 12 minutes

Once the white is opaque your egg is basically done you can cook longer or shorter depending on how runny you want your yolk.

Sprinkle with salt to finish

Serve in the pan with your toasty bread on the side and enjoy!

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Rustic Summer Tomato Harissa Pizza ‘Tart’

Tomato Pizza 'Tart'What is more quintessentially summer than the tomato. Nothing compares to that fresh juicy fruit straight from the vine, sun ripened and delicious. When tomatoes are in season I love to not only just eat them fresh but use them in absolutely every bit of cooking I can which is where this pizza ‘tart’ came about. My local farmers market had some lovely looking grape tomatoes available that I thought would be perfect on a summer pizza.

As I was going to be using tomatoes as the topping I thought the spice of Harissa would be great as the ‘sauce’ and ricotta would be great to help balance the heat of the cheese and be a mild flavor addition to the mix.

Tomato Pizza 'Tart'


Makes 2 Pizza ‘Tarts’

I have also posted this recipe on Food 52 if you want the easier to print version!

1/2 cup Harissa; you can use store bought or follow my recipe here

1/2 cup Ricotta

1 cup Sliced tomatoes (I used grape)

1 recipe of the below Chickpea Pizza Dough prepared onto 2 baking sheets per the recipe

Pepper to Taste

Salt to Taste

Any Finishing Salt that you enjoy

Olive Oil for brushing the crust


As per the below recipe preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

On each pizza spread out about half of the harissa stopping about 1″ from the edge of the crust

On top of the Harissa spread out half of the ricotta on each pizza

Lightly salt and pepper the ricotta

Lay out your sliced tomatoes on top of the ricotta, if you want to can lay them out in a nice pattern or just throw them on, whichever works for you

Fold over the portion of the dough with out the harissa and ricotta on top of the tomatoes and ricotta to make a rustic tart

Salt and pepper the tomatoes and lightly brush the crust with olive oil

Cook each pizza ‘tart’ for about 20-25 minutes until lightly brown

Once the pizza ‘tart’ is done finish with a little bit of your finishing salt and cut into pieces and serve!

Makes 2 Medium Pizza Crusts
For this pizza dough I adapted my favorite beer pizza crust recipe from Simple Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin to include some chickpea flour for some extra depth and texture but you can just sub it for AP flour if you wish4 ounces Garbanzo Bean/ Chick Pea Flour (about 1 cup)8 ounces All purpose flour (about 2 cups) + some for dusting1 tablespoon Baking Powder12 ounces Beer (I used a Stella Artois but any light beer is good)

1/2 teaspoon Salt

Cornmeal for Dusting the Pans

2 Baking Sheets Tomato Pizza 'Tart'TO PREPARE

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees

In a large bowl mix together all the dry ingredients for the Pizza

Add in the beer to the mix and mix well.

This dough will be really sticky, depending on the humidity where you are you might need to add more flour to thicken the dough up a bit.

Dust 2 metal sheet pans with cornmeal and split your dough in half

Take one half of your dough and one pan and roll/ pat our your dough into a rustic pizza shape on your pan, flour as needed

Repeat with the the above with the second pan and half of the dough

Spread out your toppings and sauce as you wish Cook for about 20- 25 min until the crust starts to turn light brown

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Condiment Special: Harissa!

Oh Harissa the condiment that has been slowly turning up on more an more restaurant menus here in New York in many interesting ways. If you are unfamiliar with Harissa it is a traditional North African Condiment that has the same versatilitiy of everyones favorite Siracha but with a different flavor profile. NPR has a great short article about the history of Harissa here.

I love the spiciness and versatility of Harissa and since I have made it I have been using it in everything. I have a few recipes coming up in the next week or so that utilize the subtle spiciness and rich depth of flavor to the fullest. You can make Harissa as spicy or as mild as you like depending on what peppers you use in the mix. For mine I went moderately spicy with using Ancho Chilies but I would love to try a chipotle and red pepper version for a smokey spiciness.

I came up with my recipe by mixing the parts of different recipes that suited my fancy. If you want some more recipes and references for Harissa some of the ones I referenced were How to Make Harissa Paste from, Harissa Recipe from, Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi.



Makes about 1- 1 1/2 Cups

This recipe can also be found on Food 52 for an easier to print version

4oz Dried Chilies (I used Ancho)

1tsp Caraway Seeds

1tsp Coriander Seeds

1tsp Cumin Seeds

6 Cloves Garlic

Juice of 1 Lemon

1tbsp Tomato Paste

about 2tbsp Olive Oil

Salt to Taste

Boiling Water

Large Bowl

Food Processor

Mortar and Pestle or Spice Grinder



In the large bowl place your dried chilis and cover with boiling water and cover. Let sit for 30min until the chilies are soft

While the Chilies are softening toast your spices and grind into powder

Once the chilies have sat for 30min stem and seed them and add into the food processor

Add the Garlic, Spices, Salt, Lemon Juice, and Tomato Paste to the Chilies in the food processor

Turn your food processor on low and pour in the olive oil while it is running. Only use what is necessary to make a smooth paste.

Continue running the food processor until the paste is smooth.

Transfer to a jar and enjoy!

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Weekend Brunch: Mushroom English Muffin

Mushroom Toast

I love breakfast foods so of course I love brunch. On weekends if I don’t have plans for brunch with friends I love making a single serving of something for my self. Today that meal was a fried egg on top of a mushroom saute served on a toasted English muffin. I was inspired by the Mushroom Toast my friends got when we were at Five Leaves a few weeks ago. I made a version of this last weekend when I was visiting family in California and I like it so much I thought I would make it again for 1 today and add ricotta to it since I had it on hand. You can easily omit the ricotta and it is still delicious, it is also especially great on toasted baguette as well.

This is something that is pretty quick and easy to make and can be easily scaled up and down depending on how many people you want to serve and can be varied endlessly. While I made a fried egg today to top my mushrooms a poached egg is also excellent because you have the muffin to soak up the runny yoke.

Mushroom Toast
Serves 1
1 English Muffin
1 Cup Mushrooms (I used sliced white button mushrooms but anything you have will do)
2 Tbsp Ricotta Cheese
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Egg
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Salt to Taste
Chiffonaded Basil for garnish
1 Large Saute Pan

Toast your English Muffin, I suggest toasting it a little crisper than you normally would since they will soften up with the mushrooms and egg

Heat up your Saute pan on medium heat and add in your butter. Once the butter is hot add in the mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste.

Saute the mushrooms until soft and they start picking up some color.

Once your English Muffin is toasted and while the mushrooms are still cooking place about a Tbsp of Ricotta on each muffin and place on your plate.

Once the mushrooms are soft and have picked up some color spoon them out on top of your english muffin and ricotta.

In the same pan fry an egg to the doneness of your liking and plate on top of the mushrooms.

Sprinkle your chiffonaded basil on top and sprinkle some more salt and pepper and serve

Mushroom Toast

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The Golden State


Last night I arrived in California for a long weekend trip and it feels so good to be back. I was born and raised in Northern CA and have spent most of my young life moving around and traveling around the northern part of the state. This is the state with the wilderness that helped me develop such a love for nature and the outdoors, this is the state that formed my attitude on life, this is the state where I first fell in love with food of the world due to thankfully growing up in such a multi cultural community in a such a multi cultural state, this is the state the helped make me who I am.

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

When I am away my heart yearns for so much in this glorious state, the Redwoods of the North Coast, the majesty of the Yosemite Valley, the glory of the rocky Pacific coast, the dense fog of the San Francisco Bay Area, the freshness of the produce, for absolutely everything.


I will always love you California and it is so lovely to be back in your embrace

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