Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Roasted Eggplant With Fried Onion and Chopped Lemon

Yes, apologies for the long silence as usual.  No excuses, just super lazy...  But here's a great dish I just made,
I had an eggplant that I needed to use, so I just halved the recipe.  They look like shoes a little bit.  The fried onions are so fragrant and the combination with the feta, lemon and chilies is very flavorful and fresh.
 I love chef Ottolenghi's Jerusalem cookbook by Ottolenghi cookbook, I have the Kindle version, but just got the hardback version because scrolling through the cookbook on an ipad is just not the same thing as flipping through the book.  The pictures are so very gorgeous on paper too.


2 large eggplants (about 1 2/3 pounds)
2/3 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 onions (about 1 1/4 pounds), thinly sliced
1 1/2 green chiles
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sumac
1 3/4 ounces feta cheese, broken into large chunks
1 medium lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed


Preheat oven to 425. (1) Halve the eggplants lengthwise with the stems on. (2) Score the cut side of each eggplant with a crisscross pattern. (3) Brush the cut sides with 6 1/2 tablespoons of the oil and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet, cut side up, for about 45 minutes, until the flesh is golden brown. (A tip: Place a shallow pan of water at the bottom of the oven to prevent the eggplants from drying out.) While the eggplants are roasting, add the remaining oil to a large frying pan and place over high heat. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook for 8 minutes, stirring often, so that parts of the onion get dark and crisp. Seed and chop the chiles, keeping the whole chile separate from the half. Add the ground cumin, sumac, and the whole chopped chile, and cook for a further 2 minutes before adding the feta. Cook for a final minute, not stirring much, then remove from the heat. Use a small serrated knife to remove the skin and pith of the lemon. Coarsely chop the flesh, discarding the seeds, and place the flesh and any juices in a bowl with the remaining 1/2 chile and the garlic. Transfer the roasted halves to a serving dish, and spoon the lemon sauce over the flesh. Warm up the onions a little, and spoon over. Serve warm or set aside to come to room temperature.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Minestrone Soup topped with Pesto

I recently had the opportunity to sharpen my skills at an abridged Basic Knife Skills class at the very cool and new San Francisco Cooking School on Van Ness.  We diced, chopped, julienned vegetables all the while learning some very cool skills that I thought I already knew, but actually not entirely... So, now I feel much more in control of the many deadly sharp blades in the kitchen, and I brought home the basics to make a vegetable minestrone.

Recipe from the San Francisco Cooking School

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups diced onion
2 medium carrots, cut in ½-inch dice
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, finely sliced
2 stalks celery, cut in ½-inch pieces
Coarse salt and fresh pepper to taste
2 potatoes, peeled and cut in ½-inch dice
6 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock
1 (14 ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1 ½ cups Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups zucchini, cut in ½-inch dice
1 (14 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

We chopped all these vegetables in class and brought everything home in convenient plastic tubs so we could make the super easy recipe for soup at home.

2 cups gently packed basil leaves
1 medium garlic clove, chopped
¼ cup toasted pine nuts
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the onions, carrots, leeks and celery with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are lightly browned and begin to soften, 5-6 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, 2-3 minutes more.

Stir in the chicken broth, tomatoes and a pinch each of salt and pepper and cook until all the vegetables are tender, about 1 hour. Add the cabbage, zucchini and beans. Cook until cabbage and zucchini are just tender with a bit of a bite, about 6 minutes more.

While the soup is cooking, make the pesto. Using your knife, finely chop the basil, garlic, and pine nuts together. Place in a small bowl and add the oil until the mixture is shiny and moist. Stir in the cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve the soup with a drizzle of the fresh pesto over the top. Serves 6.  It is delicious and so easy!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Smitten Kitchen Mushroom Tart

Hi, long time no see.  I made this mushroom tart for a cookbook book club I have joined and we met at Mosswood Park in Oakland and everyone brought dishes from the Smitten Kitchen blog or cookbook.


the crust:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup yellow cornmeal
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into ½ inch pieces
1 large egg

the filling:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
½ pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 pound assorted wild mushrooms (such as shiitake or oyster), torn into small pieces (You can substitute more cremini or baby bella mushrooms for the wild mushrooms).
1 teaspoon salt, divided
freshly ground pepper, to taste
¼ cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
¼ cup milk
2 large eggs
½ cup freshly grated gruyere cheese
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

To make the crust - add the flour, cornmeal and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Add in the butter. Pulse until the butter is the size of tiny peas. Add the egg and process until the dough starts to clump together (it will look like wet sand). Dump the dough onto a floured surface and use your hands to bring it together. Roll out the dough to a 12-inch circle (rolling out the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap made this very easy). Transfer the dough to a 9-inch tart pan and press the dough against the bottom and sides. Remove the excess dough from the top. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and put in the freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter one side of a 12-inch square of aluminum foil. Press the foil firmly against the bottom and sides of the crust (butter side down). Bake for 10 minutes (no pie weights needed). Carefully remove the foil and then bake for another 5 to 8 minutes, until lightly golden brown around the edges. Place on a wire rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
    To make the filling - set a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter. When the butter is melted, add the shallots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 to 3 minutes, until soft. Add in the garlic and thyme and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Increase the heat to medium high and add in the mushrooms (if the mushrooms won’t all fit in your skillet, add as many as you can and as they cook down you’ll be able to add more to the pan).

    Cook for about 9 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and the liquid has evaporated. Stir in ½ teaspoon salt and pepper (to taste). Transfer to a plate to cool.
    In a medium bowl, add the mascarpone. Slowly pour in the milk and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the eggs. Add in the gruyere, parmesan and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Add in the cooled mushrooms and mix to combine.

    Carefully pour the mixture into the tart shell. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until slightly puffed and lightly golden brown on the top (if you insert the tip of a small knife into the center, it should not release any wet custard). Let the tart cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan to serve. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    There were lots of delicious dishes, it was a very bright sunny day and our picnic table was half in and half out of the sun, which made for the piebald effect below.  This is the spread:  pesto potato with green beans top left, then roasted carrots  and avocado salad, roasted peppers with capers and mozarella, the most amazing savory shortcake made with cherry tomatoes whipped goat cheese, salted brown butter rice krispy treats, and lemon bars made from meyer lemon.  A very delicious and fun feast!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Francoise' Lamb Tagine with Apricots and almonds

Makes 4 servings
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

1 cup chicken broth
2 oz moist, plump dried apricots
About 6 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless lamb shoulder, fat removed, cut into cubes about 1 1/2 inches on a side (we used lamb stew meat)
2 medium onions, peeled, trimmed and coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled, trimmed, germ removed and finely chopped
One half 14 1/2 - ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, or 2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and crushed
1-1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds, cracked (I used ground)
2 large pinches saffron
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
About 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Couscous or rice, for serving

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

If you're using the bouillon cubes (it's what Dorie's friend Francoise uses), drop them into a medium-size bowl and pour over 1 3/4 cups of boiling water; stir to dissolve.  If you're using chicken broth, bring it to the boil, then pour it into the bowl.  Add the apricots to the bowl and let them soak and plump while you prepare the rest of the tagine.

Put the base of a tagine, a heavy, high-sided skillet or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and pour in 3 tablespoons of the oil.  Pat the pieces of lamb dry between sheets of paper towels, then drop them into the hot oil - don't crowd the pan; work in batches, if necessary - and brown the meat on all sides, about 4 minutes.  Lift the meat out of the pot and onto a plate with a slotted spoon.  Season the lamb with salt and pepper.  Pour out the fat that it's in the pan, but leave whatever bits may have stuck to the base.

Return the pan to the stove, adjust the heat to low and add 2 more tablespoons of the olive oil.  When the oil is warm, stir in the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, just to get them started on the road to softening.  Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook, stirring often, for another 10 minutes, adding a little more oil, if needed.  Add the chicken bouillon/broth to the pot as well as the coriander, saffron - crush the saffron between your fingers as you sprinkle it into the pot - ginger, cumin, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro leaves.  Stir to mix and dissolve the spices, season with salt and pepper and spoon the meat over the base of vegetables.  Top with the plumped apricots, seal the pan with aluminum foil and clap on the lid.  Slide the pan into the oven.

Bake the tagine for 60 minutes before carefully lifting the lid and foil and scattering the almonds over the meat.  Recover the pan and allow the tagine to bake for 15 minutes more.  You can also just toast the almonds and scatter them over the dish when serving.

Serving:  If you've cooked it in a tagine, sprinkle the remaining cilantro over the meat, bring the tagine to the table and serve directly from the pan.  If you've used a skillet or Dutch oven, transfer the tagine to a warm large serving platter and dust with cilantro. This is fabulous served with spicy Harissa sauce on the side.

If you make the dish ahead, add the toasted almonds when you reheat the tagine for serving.

Click here to read the related story on my other blog foodhoe's foraging.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cheesy Dip Fondue


I recently was inspired to have a fondue party and made a non-traditional cheese fondue that is made with cream cheese, which made it more like a cheesy dip.  It stayed smooth and creamy and never separated or got gloppy, delicious to the end.  I got the idea from Epicurious here.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup whipping cream
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
1/2 cup (packed) grated Gruyère cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Heat oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add cream, cream cheese, Parmesan, and Gruyère. Whisk until smooth, about 3 minutes. Stir in nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. You don't even really need to put this in a fondue pot and can reheat in the microwave if it needs remelting.

Things to dip in a Cheese fondue:

pretzel, tatertots, meatballs, cubes of olive and walnut breads
slices of apples, pears or grapes

steamed or roasted broccoli and cauliflower, or mushrooms.
Be sure to include a few palate-cleansing pickles, like cornichons, gherkins or olives to help cut the richness.

I found this brilliant idea from Jaden's Steamy Kitchen.  Mini pigs in a blanket (1 can/tube of crescent dough + Lil’ Smokies baby sausage links. Unroll the dough, cut into strips – wrap each Lil’ Smokie and bake 375F for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.)

a cured meats plate, cubes of salami

Sliced Louisiana Hot Link

Chocolate Fondue


12 ounces of dark chocolate (chips or roughly chopped if from a block), I used a mixture of good quality dark and milk chocolate

8 ounces of heavy cream
A pinch of salt
a good swig of a liquer, such as Frangelico (hazelnut) or cognac
Warm the cream over moderate heat until tiny bubbles show and begins to lightly and slowly boil. Add the chocolate and whisk until smooth and full incorporated.

Immediately transfer to a fondue pot heated at low or with a low flame, or serve straight from the pot.

Things to dip:

Fruits: pineapple, kiwi, banana, strawberries, grapes, fresh coconut pieces, cherries, raspberries, blueberries
Frozen banana slcies
Dried fruits, candied ginger, candied orange peel
Bits of sweets:  brownie bits, marshmallows, cookie, rice crispy treats, pound cake, angel food cake,
blondies, macaroons, biscotti
pretzel rods, graham crackers, lady fingers, cookies, peanut butter and fluff sandwiches

or potato chips!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Roy Choi's really good spaghetti sauce

I'm back after a long lazy silence...  I've been cooking but not taking pictures, it seemed just wrong to post without pictures!  Anyways, I was inspired to try making this recipe $4 Spaghetti that's almost as good as $24 Spaghetti, from the Food & Wine website which caught my eye with its brilliant claim.  Fortunately I had all of the ingredients at hand.  It's full of flavor and made quite a lot for leftovers or to freeze and was so good that I wanted to share it with you.  

The recipe is by Roy Choi of L.A.’s Kogi empire (read more about him here) who loves the $24 spaghetti from Scott Conant’s Scarpetta in NYC but says, “my $4 version tastes almost as good.”  His trick: flavoring tomato sauce with a quick mushroom broth and slow-cooked garlic.

4 ounces white button mushrooms, thinly sliced ( I had 2 cups of old and tired crimini)
3/4 cup peeled garlic cloves (4 ounces, from about 4 heads)
 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used 1/2 cup)
Two 28-ounce cans peeled Italian tomatoes with their juices
Freshly ground pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1/4 cup torn basil leaves
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving

  1. In a saucepan, bring the mushrooms and 3 cups of water to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the broth is reduced to 1 cup, 1 hour. Strain and discard the mushrooms. 
  2.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the garlic and olive oil to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat, stirring, until the garlic is very tender and golden, about 30 minutes.

  3.  In a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven, bring the tomatoes and the garlic and oil to a boil. Add the mushroom broth and, using an immersion blender, puree the sauce until smooth. Bring the sauce back to a boil, then simmer over moderately low heat until thickened, about 1 hour. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain the spaghetti and return to the pot. Add 2 cups of the sauce and cook, tossing, for 1 minute. Transfer the spaghetti to bowls, top with the basil and serve with grated cheese. 
Make Ahead The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Suggested Pairing Fruit-forward, medium-bodied Italian red.

I finally used the pasta from Flour + Water that I bought at the Salumeria next door to Central Kitchen.  It made a very fine plate of pasta with the Kogi sauce.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Momofuku's Crack Pie

Momofuku Milkbar CRACK PIE!!!

I am quite delinquent in posting this recipe for the pie I made last Thanksgiving!  You can read the post here.  The infamously named pie does have a sinister addictive quality, everyone who took a bite was unable to stop.  And later, we wanted to go back for more...  The recipe is from the Momofuku Milkbar Cookbook and has been published online, so I'm not breaking any laws by posting it up here.

Total time: 1 1/2 hours, plus cooling and chilling times
Servings: Makes 2 pies (6 to 8 servings each)

Note: Adapted from Momofuku. This pie calls for 2 (10-inch) pie tins. You can substitute 9-inch pie tins, but note that the pies will require additional baking time, about 5 minutes, due to the increased thickness of the filling.

Cookie for crust

2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (3 ounces) flour
Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) sugar
1 egg
Scant 1 cup (3 1/2 ounces) rolled oats


1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar and sugar until light and fluffy.

4. Whisk the egg into the butter mixture until fully incorporated.

5. With the mixer running, beat in the flour mixture, a little at a time, until fully combined. Stir in the oats until incorporated.

6. Spread the mixture onto a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking sheet and bake until golden brown and set, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to the touch on a rack. Crumble the cooled cookie to use in the crust.


Crumbled cookie for crust
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 1/2 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine the crumbled cookie, butter, brown sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until evenly combined and blended (a little of the mixture clumped between your fingers should hold together). Divide the crust between 2 (10-inch) pie tins. Press the crust into each shell to form a thin, even layer along the bottom and sides of the tins. Set the prepared crusts aside while you prepare the filling.


1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
3/4 cup plus a scant 3 tablespoons (7 ounces) light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon (3/4 ounce) milk powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
3/4 cup plus a scant 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 egg yolks
2 prepared crusts
Powdered sugar, garnish

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, salt and milk powder. Whisk in the melted butter, then whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla.

3. Gently whisk in the egg yolks, being careful not to add too much air.

4. Divide the filling evenly between the 2 prepared pie shells.

5. Bake the pies, one at a time, for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake until the filling is slightly jiggly and golden brown (similar to a pecan pie), about 10 minutes.  I made this recipe twice and both times the filling had a runny center,  but my oven at the time (I have upgraded to a convection, so I think I should try this again).  Remove the pies and cool on a rack.

6. Refrigerate the cooled pies until well chilled. The pies are meant to be served cold, and the filling will be gooey. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Each of 16 servings: 432 calories; 4 grams protein; 45 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 27 grams fat; 16 grams saturated fat; 187 mg. cholesterol; 36 grams sugar; 125 mg. sodium.