Tag Archives: Main

Coconut-Lime Chicken Fajitas with Cilantro Yogurt

1 Nov

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about casual cooking in the past 5 years, it’s that sometimes improvising can lead to something better. Whether it’s using olive oil in a cake when you’re out of butter or replacing oats with crushed pecans (see my last post), altering a recipe out of necessity or curiosity often leads to something good. In this case, it was curiosity that drove me to switch up some of these ingredients in a pretty standard chicken fajita recipe. Instead of vegetable or canola oil I used coconut oil. Instead of just cumin powder I used whole cracked cumin seeds, and instead of sour cream I used a thick Greek yogurt.

Coconut Lime Chicken Fajitas with Cilantro Yogurt


3 chicken breasts

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons dried unsweetened coconut

3 limes

2 tablespoons Cumin seeds, cracked

2 teaspoons mild Chili powder

salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

4-5 Yellow and Orange bell peppers, julienned

2 large onions, sliced

flour tortillas

1 1/2 cups sour cream or yogurt

handful of cilantro, chopped

1 block extra sharp cheddar, grated

Mix together Coconut oil, coconut, juice of 2 limes, cumin seeds, and chili powder in a large bowl. Slice chicken into 1-inch strips and mix into bowl with other ingredients. Add some salt and freshly ground black pepper pepper. Let marinate in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300°. Wrap the tortillas in foil and put them in the oven to heat. Julienne the bell peppers and slice the onions. Cook them in a pan with a bit of olive or vegetable oil, salt, and pepper. In the same pan as you cooked the peppers, cook the chicken, tossing frequently until cooked through. Chop the cilantro and mix into yogurt, then squeeze in juice of remaining lime. Grate cheese into bowl or on small plate. Serve chicken, cheese, peppers, and onions with warm tortillas and pass around the cilantro yogurt to top.


Whole Roast Duck

8 Oct

OK guys. I made my first duck.

It was a tough decision to go French or Chinese, but I went with Chinese style and it was DELISH. Next time I’ll try a French recipe.  I served it up for a small dinner party with friends, and it was a hit.  In order to get the most fat out of it as possible, and to get the crispiest skin, I placed it on a rack inside of a roasting dish and slashed a diamond pattern through the skin and fat layers all over. I rotated it every hour. When I was done, I had about 1 1/2 cups of duck fat, which I used to fry potatoes in for brunch the next weekend. Another thing you can do with it: slather it all over a whole chicken and roast it.  Chicken roasted in duck fat? Does it get any better than that?

Whole Roast Duck


1 Whole Pekin (Long Island) Duck 4-5 lbs (I used a Bell and Evans Young Duckling from Whole Foods, but you can also get one in Chinatown!)

2 tablespoons fragrant honey

2 tablespoons molasses

6 tablespoons oyster sauce

2 tablespoons orange juice

4 scallions, roughly chopped

6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

4 bay leaves

1 handful basil and cilantro, torn

1 medium fresh red chili, thinly sliced

salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 300°. Remove all the innards from the duck.  They might be in a bag, they might not be.  Mine were not.  If you want, you can keep the liver and make Pâté or sauté it with some butter, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper and spread it on a rustic bread. I didn’t do that this time, but it’s a project I hope to take on soon.

Wash the duck inside and out and pat it dry with paper towels. Grab a pair of pliers or tweezers and remove any quills that you see (if there are any). Trim off any extra skin, which there most likely will be. Throw it away or render it if you want some extra duck fat.

Next, score the skin.  Using a very sharp knife, cut a diamond pattern across the whole top of the duck. Then prick it all over with the tip of the knife. Make sure you are only pricking and cutting the skin and layer of fat, not the meat! Tie the legs together with some kitchen twine.

Sprinkle the duck generously with salt, then put it in the oven. After 1 hour, remove the duck and prick it all over again.  When you do this, rich melted duck fat will seep out. Make sure you get the area around the legs where the most fat is. Turn the duck over, breast side down, and roast for another hour at 300°.

After the second hour, remove the bird, prick it all over again, and turn it breast side up. Roast for another hour at 300°.  After the third hour, pull out the duck again.  It should be starting to look pretty crispy.  Prick it all over and turn it breast side down. Roast at 300° for a final hour.

Meanwhile, mix the ingredients for you glaze in a small saucepan over Low-Medium heat for about 4 minutes.  The sauce should start to thicken.  When it does, remove it from the heat.

After the fourth hour, take the bird out of the oven. Raise the temperature to 400°. Pour the duck fat from the roasted pan into a heat-safe container.  Once the oven hits 400°, turn the bird breast side up back on the rack and stick it back in the oven.  Roast for ten minutes.  This helps the skin get a bit crispier. Brush the duck all over with your glaze, then stick it back in the oven for 5-7 minutes. Keep a close eye on it so that the glaze doesn’t burn.

Let the duck sit for a few minutes until it is cool enough to cut, then carve it as you would a chicken and serve! And eat fast, because it will be gone before you know it.

Pasta with King Crab, Mint, and Jalapeño

3 Sep

I’m just going to admit it. This recipe is from Top Chef.  It was prepared for the Quickfire challenge on Season 2, episode 7 of Top Chef Masters by Chef Jonathan Waxman, owner-chef of Barbuto in the West Village. I wouldn’t say I follow Top Chef “regularly”, but I will pretty much always watch an episode if its on and I’m channel surfing (for which my days are numbered).

When I saw this dish on the show, I wrote down “PASTA CRAB JALEPENO MINT’ on a blue sticky note sitting on the coffee table, and have since been meaning to make it.  Its a dish that he serves at the restaurant that he says is one of the most popular dishes.  The biggest complain from the judges on the show was that there wasn’t enough crab, so I made sure there was PLENTY.

So so good. Make this. Its so easy (minus the messiness of pulverizing the crab legs, but that is why you should learn from my mistakes and get a pair of Crackers, rather than telling yourself it will be completely fine with a meat tenderizer.

Other things I learned: be gracious with the mint AND the jalapeño. This recipe only calls for 1, but to be honest, I would probably use at least 3 if I made this again, and I don’t like my food spicy.

Pasta with King Crab, Mint, and Jalapeño

From Jonathan Waxman, Top Chef Masters on Bravo


1 cup King Crab meat  (or more! I used 3 large crab legs, probably closer to 1.5 cups)

1 jalapeño, diced (as I said before, I recommend using more, at least 3)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup mint leaves (or more if you wish)

1 lb pasta (Waxman uses Angel Hair, I used Conchigle)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lemon

1 lime

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fill a large pot about halfway with water. Bring to a boil then add 1 teaspoon of salt along with the crab legs.  Cover and reduce heat. Let cook for about 6 minutes, then remove and rinse legs immediately in cold water. Using your crackers, remove all the crab meat and shred down any large pieces.

Cook your pasta then drain and keep ready. In a large pan (I actually used a Wok), melt butter. Add jalepeno, mint, garlic, and a touch of zest from the lemon and lime. Saute for 1-2 minutes, then add crab.  Cook 1 minute more, just so the crab is warm, then add pasta. Cook until everything is just heated through, then add a squeeze of lemon juice and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with fresh mint. I also grated some fresh parmesan over the plates.

Grilled Flatbread Pizza

31 Aug


The other night, as my stomach started to rumble and I looked up from my 3 zillion Google Chrome Tabs to a clock that said “8:45”, I realized that I had not gone grocery shopping any time recently, but I knew we still had a drawer full of veggies in the fridge (I tend to overestimate the amount of vegetables to buy but yet it seems like we need an endless supply of fruit).  There was a bunch of Brocoli Rabe, or, the more fun way to say it, RAPINI, which I had bought after reading how much higher it is in things like vitamins A,C, and K, potassium, iron, and calcium than most other dark leafy greens.  I’m not actually sure if its considered a dark leafy green or a cruciferous vegetable.  Anyone know? Either way, high in soluble fire and packed with anti-cancer properties. So YAY RAPINI. Scream it in an Italian accent.

I’ve always loved those flatbread pizzas that you can get at various farmers markets and cafes.  The Saturday market at Prospect Park comes to mind.  Luckily, a I have been on a making my own bread kick and have tons of packages of yeast in the cupboard.  So I decided to whip up a half whole wheat-honey pizza dough and make a flatbread pizza with all the leftover veggies I had. That was broccoli rabe, broccolini, red onion, zucchini, yellow squash, and red peppers. I added some goat cheese and prosciutto for a kick of flavor, but as long as the veggies are spiced well you can leave these out, or try feta or other meats instead.  You can use pretty much whatever you have in your fridge.

Grilled Flatbread Pizza


for dough

4 cups flour (I used half whole wheat and half white)

1 1/4 cups lukewarm water

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 cup additional water or milk

for topping (vegetables may vary)

1 red onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, sliced

2 red bell peppers

1 zucchini, sliced into manageable pieces

1 yellow squash, sliced like zucchini

few handfuls of goat cheese, crumbled

1/4 lb prosciutto, roughly torn or cut

1/4 cup parmesan, grated

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450°.

In a small bowl dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water. Mix in the honey, then let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes until foamy.  Meanwhile, mix the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a “well” in the middle. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil and yeast mixture into the center of the flour. Using your hands, or a spoon if you wish, slowly stir the mixture by gradually bringing the flour to the center in a circular motion.  When it is a good consistency (you may need to add a bit more flour depending on the type you are using), flour a clean surface and knead the dough fora bout 5-8 minutes until the dough feels elastic.  Place in a bowl, drizze with olive oil, and cover with plastic wrap.  Put in a warm place and let it rise for about an hour.  The more warm and moist the location, the faster the rising process will go.

While the dough is rising, prepare the vegetables. Blacken the red bell peppers like you did for the Couscous with Grilled Summer Vegetables and Herbs. Slice all the vegetables so they are a manageable size. Put them all in a large bowl (including the garlic), drizze with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  (you could also use some thyme, basil, or whatever herbs you are in the mood for.

Once the dough has risen, roll it out to about 1/4 inch thickness and stretch over the pan you are using. This recipe made me one 18×13 inch flatbread and one 9×13 inch flatbread.   Cover the dough with all the vegetables, then spread the goat cheese, prosciutto, and parmesan evenly across the pizza(s).

Bake 12-14 minutes, and keep your eye on it.

SO GOOD. and so fibrous. And great for lunch the next day (if it doesn’t all get eaten…). I know I always say that. But leftover dinners are the best lunches.

Flank Steak Sandwiches with All the Right Fixings

24 Aug

Sometimes you just need a good meat fix.

Flank Steak Sandwiches on Ciabatta


1 1/2 lbs flank steak

ciabatta or similar crusty bread, sliced

sharp white cheddar, sliced roughly

handful of baby arugula

handful of mushrooms

red onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon sugar

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

handful mixed herbs (parsley, thyme, rosemary), chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper


Wrap bread in foil and place into a warm oven to heat while you prepare the rest. Start with the mushrooms. Wipe any dirt off them and slice thinly.  Sauté with 1 clove minced garlic in olive oil on medium-high heat. Put them aside onto a plate with a couple paper towels to soak up any extra oil.  In the same pan, sauté the onions.  (add some fresh olive oil if necessary) After about 1 minute, add the sugar to the onions then continue to cook.  This will brown and caramelize the onions for a sweet contrast to the salty-savory-spicy bits of the sandwich.

Next, prepare the steak.  Pound it down if it is now evenly sliced, then generously rub in the herbs, garlic, salt and pepper.  Pour a bit of olive oil and balsamic over the top.  If you have a grill available, by all means, use that! Otherwise, set your broiler to its highest setting and cook (briefly!) on each side.  For medium-rare, sear about 3 minutes on each side.


Finally, put the sandwiches together! The bread will be warm and crusty, so smear it with some fresh horseradish, and stack up the cheddar, arugula, steak, mushrooms, and caramelized onions.  So, so good. And the leftovers are the best!

Wild Salmon with Crunchy Sweet Vinaigrette

27 Jul

Last night my S.O. and I went grocery shopping TOGETHER.  This doesn’t happen often.  He hates grocery shopping.  I love grocery shopping.  Whenever he comes with me, he is utterly shocked when the whole process takes more than 10 minutes and he follows me around with the cart like a magnet.  I try to explain to him that it’s much easier to just park it at the end of the aisle while you get the stuff you need (which is what I usually do, to avoid traffic), but he insists on following every step I take with the cart. He’s a bit like a little kid: asking me what the difference is between the Frontier Organic Cayenne Pepper and the 365 Cayenne Pepper, and loading up the cart with three different flavors of Mochi Ice Cream.

But, he DID have input when he told me he was in the mood for fish for dinner, which made me happy because I will eat fish any day of the week. I picked out a nice darkish red wild salmon fillet from the fish market and “epicurioused” (can that be a new term?) a good recipe when I got home.

This came out awesome.  I adjusted the recipe quite a bit from the original. It’s basically a mix of two recipes I read.

Wild Salmon with Crunchy Sweet Vinaigrette

Adapted from Gourmet


1/3 cup white-wine vinegar

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup Whole grain mustard

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons  vegetable oil

freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 small shallot, chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill sprigs

two 2 8oz  salmon fillets with skin

In a bowl whisk together vinegar, mustard, dill, shallots, and brown sugar.

Preheat broiler and grease a cookie sheet.

Rinse salmon fillets and pat dry. Arrange fillets, skin sides down, in pan.  Brush salmon with glaze and season with pepper and salt. Broil salmon 3 to 4 inches from heat about 8 minutes, or until just cooked through.

Flank Steak with Artichoke Hash and Aleppo Pepper Aioli

1 Jul

It’s pretty rare that I cook steak.  I generally would prefer to eat fish or poultry over red meat, and to be honest, its not my specialty.  I always end up with a smoky apartment and overcooked meat.

But practice makes perfect.  And when I discovered this recipe, I decided that it was time to practice.  And how could I resist anything that uses artichokes at this time of year? The globe artichokes piled up 2 feet high are enormous, round, and so perfectly green that they look like they could be plastic. And it doesn’t hurt that they are 5 for $5…

In hopes of not having a heart attack when I’m 50 (not to be a debbie-downer) and for the purpose of feeding the carb-phobic people closest to me, I served the aioli on the side and  eliminated the potatoes.

It was a success!! This is a great comfy meal with an kick of spice and very season-friendly.  My steak came out perfectly savory on the outside, and cooked just to a medium-rare pink.

Flank Steak with Artichoke Hash and Aleppo Pepper Aioli

Adapted from Bon Appétit



2 garlic cloves, pressed

1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper

1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Sherry wine vinegar


1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 1 1/2-to 2-pound flank steak

1/2 lemon

8 baby artichokes or 2 globe artichokes stems trimmed

1 1/4 pounds unpeeled small yellow potatoes (such as baby Dutch or Russian Banana)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/2 cup water

2 fresh thyme sprigs

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon peanut oil or vegetable oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

For Aioli:
Mash garlic, Aleppo pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt to paste in mortar with pestle or in small bowl with back of spoon. Whisk in remaining ingredients.

For steak:
Mix thyme, Aleppo pepper, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in small bowl. Rub seasoning mixture into steak; set aside.

Squeeze juice from lemon half into medium bowl of water. Cut 1/2 inch from tops of artichokes. If using globe artichokes, simply cut out all the leaves. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, break off  outer leaves. Cut artichokes lengthwise in half; cut each half into 1/2-inch wedges. Place in lemon water to prevent browning.

Place potatoes in heavy large saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover; sprinkle with salt. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-high and boil until potatoes are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain. Transfer to baking sheet until cool enough to handle. Halve or quarter potatoes.

Drain artichokes; pat to dry well, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add artichokes and sauté until browned, about 4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water, thyme sprigs, and garlic. Cover skillet and simmer over medium heat until artichokes are tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover and boil until no liquid remains, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and potatoes; stir to coat. Add cream and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until potatoes are heated through and browned in spots, stirring often, about 6 minutes. Season hash to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add steak and cook until bottom is brown, about 2 minutes. Turn steak over; transfer to oven and roast until cooked to desired doneness, about 7 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer to work surface; tent with foil to keep warm. Let rest 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, reheat artichoke potato hash gently over medium heat. Stir in chopped chives. Thinly slice steak crosswise. Divide steak and hash among plates. Drizzle some aioli over steak or serve on the side.