Red Cabbage, Walnut and Goat Cheese Salad

red cabbage salad

As soon as I read about this salad in Burt Wolf’s Eating Well cookbook, I had to make it – and I have been making it ever since. It is a beautiful and delicious salad that is also easy to make. I use it as a side salad, but I also have eaten it as a summer lunch with some crusty bread on the side. Tonight I’m serving it with lamb chops.

Red Cabbage, Walnut and Goat Cheese Salad adapted from Star’s Restaurant, San Francisco

Yield: 4 sevings


6 cups thinly sliced red cabbage

2 Tablespoons Walnut Oil or a fruity EVOO

2 Tablespoons Mission Fig Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar

1 generous Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan until fragrant

Kosher Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

8 ounce log of goat cheese or Crottin of goat cheese

Additional fresh thyme leaves for garnish

prep for red cabbage salad


  1. In a large bowl, toss all of the ingredients Except for the goat cheese and thyme leaves for garnish. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes but it can sit for several hours in a cool place.
  2. When you are ready to serve, heat the cabbage mixture in a wok or large saute pan, tossing for several minutes until heated through.
  3. Portion out to 4 salad bowls or plates and top each bowl with rounds of the goat cheese with the additional fresh thyme leaves sprinkled on top.

I have even eaten any leftovers the next day for lunch and it is still delicious.

Armenian Lentil Salad

Armenian Lentils 2

Anyone who has been reading our blog knows how much I love legumes in all of their many guises. I especially love lentils and am always on the lookout for new ways to prepare them. I have been making this salad for over 20 years and as is the salad is vegan and makes a wonderful side dish. It can also be eaten over rice for a complete protein. I like leftovers where I add a bit of crumbled feta cheese or add some roasted chicken or a merguez sausage. However you eat this salad, you will be glad to have it on hand. I always make a lot because I like it so much but you can easily halve the amount.

Armenian Lentil Salad adapted from The Frugal Gourmet

Yield: 10-12 servings as a side


2 cups of green lentil or a combination of 1.5 cups green lentils and 1/2 cup chana dal, rinsed and picked through for any stones

a generous 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt or more to taste

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Juice of 3 lemons

About 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion or shallots

1.5 teaspoons finely chopped or crushed garlic

8 Tablespoons EVOO

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Fresh cracked black pepper to taste (I do about 15 cracks of pepper)


  1. Place the rinsed lentils in a pot covered by cold water. The water should cover the lentils by a couple of inches. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a rapid simmer. Cook uncovered for about 20-25 minutes. Check after 20 minutes if the lentils are tender but still have a slight bite and retain their shape.
  2. After they have finished cooking, drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process and to rinse off any scum that might have appeared during the cooking.
  3. In the meantime, place all of the other ingredients in a serving bowl. Pour the cooled lentils over everything and gently mix through. Adjust your seasonings and olive oil according to taste.

This will keep in the fridge for several days. The parsely may dull a bit in color but the taste will be unaffected. I like this salad best at room temperature.

Armenian Lentils1

Tuscan Potato, Sausage and Kale Soup

zuppa toscana1I am afraid to jinx things, but mostly Chicago has been insanely lucky this winter. We have had very little snow and it hasn’t even truly been that cold – certainly nothing that lasted for days on end. As a result, I have been slightly less moved to make all of the soups and stews that I normally relish as soon as the temperature drops. The last few days have been a bit colder and the next few are expected to be as well so I went searching for new soups I could try out. I checked out about five different versions of Zuppa Toscana and ended up with my adaptation of a few. Some used 1:1 ratio of whole milk to chicken broth and that just seemed like way too much. And because I used chicken Italian sausage, instead of pork, there was virtually no added fat. Don’t get scared off by the heavy cream; it’s only one cup for a big pot of soup. The soup is actually ridiculously easy to make and you can have it ready in under an hour. Just have some crusty bread on hand and a salad if you are feeling ambitious. There is lots of kale in here so you are getting your greens.

Zuppa Toscana adapted from Tuscan Recipes

Yield: 8-10 servings


1 pound fresh Italian sausage (hot or sweet) that has been removed from its casings

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 Tablespoon EVOO

3 large leeks, cleaned well and thinly sliced (white and light green part only)

4 large garlic cloves, crushed

1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt

10 cups of chicken stock, preferably no salt

4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced into half-moons

1 cup heavy cream

1 large bunch kale (I just used regular curly kale, but you can use Tuscan kale if you prefer)

Fresh cracked black pepper and more Kosher salt to taste

Parmesan or Pecorino cheese for serving


  1. In a large, heavy soup pot of Dutch Oven, saute the Italian sausage and paprika, breaking it up while it cooks. Cook until just browned. If you are using pork sausage you will need to drain off the fat. Otherwise just set aside in a separate bowl.
  2. In the same pot, add the EVOO and saute the leeks and garlic until softened and beginning to brown. I sprinkle them with the 1/2 teaspoon of salt at this point.
  3. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Now addthe sliced potatoes, turn the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the heavy cream, kale and add back the cooked sausage and cook until heated through. You want to serve this hot! Garnish with freshly grated cheese and crispy bread.


Stir-Fried Bean Curd with Ground Turkey

Ma Po Tofu

Okay, this may not sound wonderful, but it’s really quite good and simple to make. As I have mentioned before, one of my favorite food websites is Food52. I have found several very good recipes though the site as well as some fun – and useful – kitchen items to purchase. I love Asian food, especially as an antidote to the occasional over-indulgence in some rich foods. I haven’t located a delivery Chinese restaurant that ever seems worth the expense to me and frankly, what could be fresher than homemade.

This recipe is known as Ma Po Tofu in restaurants and is usually made with ground pork. I chose ground turkey, but feel free to substitute ground pork if you prefer. This is an adaptation of an adaptation of a recipe that was originally published in Food & Wine.

Ma Po Tofu (Stir-Fried Bean Curd with Ground Turkey) – adapted from Robin Diane

Yield: 4 portions unless served with other dishes


1 pound ground turkey

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch

3/4 teaspoon five-spice powder

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 bunch minced scallions or more to taste

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

About 1 teaspoon sesame oil (regular or “hot”)

About 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I used Peanut oil)

3/4 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper

1 teaspoon (or more to taste) minced jalapeno pepper

1 rounded Tablespoon minced fresh garlic

1 rounded Tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 cup chicken stock, preferably unsalted

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 Tablespoons oyster sauce

1 pound fresh firm or extra firm tofu, pressed and cut into 3/4 inch cubes (see my instructions on pressing tofu)


  1. Press tofu according to instructions, cut into large dice and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. When ready to cook, combine the ground turkey, egg, 1 Tablespoon of the cornstarch, the five-spice powder, about 1 Tablespoon of the scallions, 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar. 1/2 teaspoon of the seasme oil and the salt. In a wok or large frying pan, heat 1.5 Tablespoons of the oil over high heat until it is shimmering. Then add the turkey mixture and break it up with a wooden utensil until it browns. Stir-fry until it is cooked through – about 3 minutes. Transfer to a strainer over a bowl to drain any excess fat.
  3. Lower the heat to moderate and add about 1 Tablespoon of the vegetable oil until it is hot. Stir in alll of the remaining scallions (except for about 1 Tablespoon that you have set aside for garnish), the red and jalapeno peppers, garlic and giner. Stir-fry until fragrant – about 30 seconds. Add back the cooked turkey and the remaining sugar and mix well. Increase the heat to high, stir in the chicken stock, soy sauce and oyster sauce and bring to a boil.
  4. Meanwhile dissolve the remaining 2 teaspoons of cornstarch in 2 teaspoons of cold water. When well mixed, add the mixture to the center of the pan, stirring as you do it. Gently stir in the tofu and cook for about 3 minutes more until heated through. Serve over steamed or boiled rice and sprinkle with the remaining chopped scallions and drizzle with a bit more sesame oil.

Crockpot Chicken Tagine

I’m often convinced that Lisa and I are communicating on some other cooking channel that we don’t even realize.  I love all the recipes she sends me and just wish I had more patience to cook them all!  I was delighted to find that we both made a Moroccan Chicken with preserved lemons dish last Friday, although mine was the simplified “still feeling under the weather and resorting to a crock pot” version.  Nevertheless, we were in some ways all eating together!


I happened to have preserved lemons on hand from ages ago when I (thankfully) had the forethought to make them, but I’ve also recently discovered that you can buy them!  As Lisa says, the internet has everything.


I served my tagine over simple couscous made in leftover chicken stock, and making it took maybe 10-15 minutes max!


6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into large chunks
2 tablespoons flour
2 large onions, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1-2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 inch fresh gingerroot, finely chopped
6 ounces dried apricots
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 (14 ounce) cans chopped tomatoes
2 (14 ounce) cans chickpeas
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 pint chicken stock
1 pinch saffron
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 teaspoons ras el hanout spice mix (or make up spice mix below)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
salt and black pepper
chopped fresh coriander, to serve (Cilantro)
1 bag baby carrots
1 preserved lemon, chopped into small wedges
harissa (optional)

  1. Heat up olive oil in a frying pan/skillet & saute chopped onions & garlic for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add chicken stock & gradually mix in flour until well mixed & not lumpy. Add honey & tomato paste & mix well.
  3. Add herbs,spices & finely chopped ginger with salt & pepper to taste. Finally add tinned tomatoes & mix well.
  4. Pour the above tomato,onion & spice mix into slow cooker. Add chicken & chickpeas & mix well.
  5. Add dried apricots making sure they are covered by juice. Add the carrots if using and preserved lemons
  6. Give it a gentle but good stir to mix everything together well.Crock Pot or Slow Cooker – Cook on high for about 3 to 4 hours OR automatic with keep warm facility for up to 8 hours.Serve with freshly chopped parsley on couscous.  Serve harissa on the side, so that guests can add according to how spicy they want their dish.

Adapted from Epicurious Easy Moroccan Chicken Tagine.


Butternut Squash Pizza

So if you read my post about the my attempts to work with puff pastry, you’ll know that there was some leftover that just did not end up getting used for the soleil.  The good news is that it was repurposed into a kind of butternut squash pizza!  Adding the cayenne pepper adds just the right amount of kick, and this is pretty easy to throw together for a weeknight dinner (assuming you and the puff pastry have come to terms).


All we had to do was roast some butternut squash, caramelize some onions, and throw it in the oven to bake.  There have been instances in which I’ve made this and been too heavy handed with the cayenne – a note of caution: there is a distinct possibility to put too much cayenne, so if gauge accordingly when you sprinkle your ‘pizzas.’

~ 2 lb Puff pastry (for the pastry) rolled out into rough rounds or squares

For the filling:
1 small butternut squash (about one pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons butter (if you have only non-stick, the smaller amount will do)
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced in half-moons
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
3/4 cup gruyere cheese

1. Prepare pastry: Roll out the two puff pastry sheets into rough rectangles or lopsided circles.

2. Prepare squash: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel squash, then halve and scoop out seeds. Cut into a 1/2-inch dice. Toss pieces with olive oil and a half-teaspoon of the salt and roast on foil lined (for neatness sake) sheet for 30 minutes or until pieces are tender, turning it midway if your oven bakes unevenly. Set aside to cool slightly.

3. Caramelize onions: While squash is roasting, melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook onion over low heat with the remaining half-teaspoon of salt and pinch of sugar, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in cayenne.

4. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Mix squash, caramelized onions, and cheese together in a bowl.

5. Assemble pizza: Spread squash, onions, cheese mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border.

6. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the pizza onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Serves ~4-5.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen Butternut Squash Galette.

Sundried Tomato and Feta Soleil

Between being under the weather and a lot of travel, I managed to convince myself that cooking something interesting would somehow make me feel better.  After a sad round with gougères that just didn’t turn out right, it was comforting to have this turn out mostly delicious.  Technically, I’d made it for a party that I thought I was going to take food to and ended up with Matthew eating most of it instead (oops).


The first go at this was a real struggle-fest, mainly because I think I hadn’t realized how touchy puff pastry was, much like Goldilocks and the bears – thaw too much and the dough is sticky, not thawed enough and too hard to roll out.  It literally had to be juuuuust right.  But who has time for that?

Anyways, this finally turned out after I gave up on the other puff pastry dough, and bought a whole new set.  But as it turned out, that other pastry dough still became a delicious butternut squash tart, so it was not all wasted.

The Smitten Kitchen version where I got this from is much more beautiful, but this turned out pretty delicious too!


3/4 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, drained
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes to taste

2 packages puffed pastry (leave in fridge overnight to thaw, or follow the box directions; remember, puff pastry = Goldilocks)
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water (for egg wash)

6 ounces feta, crumbled
2 ounces cream cheese, cold is fine
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper

Make the filling: Blend ingredients in a food processor until finely chopped and spreadable. Mixture will be thick. You can thin it with more olive oil if needed, but no need to make this thin like a sauce. Adjust seasonings to taste. Set aside.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Assemble the tart: Roll first package puffed pastry flat on a large piece of parchment paper or reusable baking mat into a 12-inch circle; use a 12-inch round plate or bowl to mark the size for a clean cut. Repeat with second dough, setting one aside in the fridge until needed.  (This part is hard if the dough isn’t the right consistency.)

Place first round on a parchment- or nonstick mat-lined baking sheet. Spread with filling to all but 1-inch from edge. Dab edges with water and place second round on top. Set a small glass upside down in the middle. Being careful not to cut through parchment paper or baking mat, cut away from glass (i.e. not through center) in quarters, or at the 3-, 6-, 9- and 12 o’clock marks. Cut through each quarter again, making 8 strips, and again, making 16 strips, and one last time so that you have 32 “rays” of pastry emanating from the center. If at any point in the cutting the pastry feels annoyingly soft and hard to cut, just pop the tray in the freezer for a few minutes to firm it back up.

Remove glass. Place finger near center of each ray (where it is most likely to break off prematurely) and gently twist each strand a few times. Beat egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water; brush it over pastry and sprinkle with seeds, if desired.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown all over.

Meanwhile, make whipped feta dip: Blend all filling ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste. Place in bowl for dipping.

Remove tart from oven, let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes then transfer to a serving platter. Tear off rays of sun, dip in whipped feta; repeat as needed.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen Feta Tapenade Soleil.

Multigrain Bread

Multigrain bread 2

For some people, it’s a good steak. For me, it’s fresh homemade bread. While I buy commercial bread, it rarely lives up to what I think of as a great loaf, especially sandwich bread. I can get a great ciabbata or baguette nowadays, but a really great sandwich bread – well that’s another story.

This recipe makes two multigrain loaves and it uses both a 10-grain cereal as well as whole wheat and all-purpose flours. The loaves are rolled in rolled oats before the last rising which not only gives them a lovely homey look, but it adds a bit of extra texture and flavor. I generally make my breads completely by hand but this recipe called for using my standing mixer and I thought I would give it a try. I wish you could taste the depth of flavor in this bread between the whole wheat flour and 10-grain cereal and the honey – yummmmmmmmmm! You can keep your Paleo diets. Give ME a really great piece of homemade bread, still warm from the oven.

Multigrain Bread adapted from Olga’s Flavor Factory

Yield: 2 9×5 inch loaves


1 1/4 cups  7 or 10-grain hot cereal mix (Bob’s Mill or I bought mine from


2 1/2 cups boiling water

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting work surface

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour

4 Tablespoons honey

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

1 Tablespoon Kosher salt

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats or quick oats

Canola or Grapeseed Oil for the pans


  1. Pour the boiling water over the cereal mix and set aside for about an hour, until it cools to approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You can tell if it is the right temperature if you can stick your finger into the cereal and it feels hot but not burning to the touch. During that time, the cereal will hydrate and soften, soaking in all that water.
  2. In another large bowl, combine the two flours and the salt together.
  3. Once the cereal has cooled, add the honey, melted butter and yeast. Mix to combine.
  4. In a standing mixer with a dough hook attachment, mix the dough on low speed, slowly adding in the mixed flours. You can also do this by hand if you don’t have a standing mixer. using a dough hook2
  5. Mix for about 2 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside to rest for 20 minutes.
  6. Return the bowl to the mixer with the dough hook and knead the bread dough for about 7 minutes, until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. If you’ve mixed if for 3-5 minutes and it’s still sticking to the bowl, add 3 Tablespoons more flour. I did not need to add any additional flour. You can also knead the dough by hand on a lightly floured surface for about 8-10 minutes. IMAG0922
  7. Coat the dough lightly in oil, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and set aside to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 40 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 2  9×5 inch bread pans with oil. When the dough has doubled in size, cut the dough in half. Flatten each half of dough into a rectangle and then tightly roll the rectangle into a loaf.
  9. Lightly spritz each loaf with water or oil and roll in the oats, just enough for the oats to adhere to the bread. (My dough actually had enough oil on it that I didn’t need to add any additional oil or water.)
  10. Place into the loaf pans and set aside to rise until double in size, for another 40 minutes or so. (If your kitchen isn’t warm, it may take longer.)
  11. Bake for 35-40 minutes in the preheated oven. When the bread is golden brown on the outside and sounds hollow when tapped with a wooden spoon, it’s ready. Basically when it looks and smells like it’s ready, it is. Cool the bread in the loaf pans for about 5 minutes before taking them out of the loaf pans and onto a cooling rack. You can freeze the second loaf. Wrap it securely and freeze and then simply thaw and serve when you need more bread.

Multigrain bread3

Moroccan Beet Salad (Barba)

Moroccan beetsFor those of you who read my post on Moroccan Chicken, you would have seen that it was served with several salads, as is traditional in the Middle East. One of my favorites is Moroccan Beet Salad. I have made it totally from scratch by cooking my own beets and I have made it using canned beets as well as the pre-roasted and peeled beets that you can now buy in most produce sections of the bigger markets. Unless you REALLY love to roast and peel beets or want the beet greens to make another Moroccan salad, I frankly don’t taste any significant difference in the more convenient beets I have used. And let’s face it, with most of us also working, I’d rather spend my time creating great meals with totally acceptable short-cuts than proving how authentic I can be. This salad can be made doubled or tripled or cut in half. Once you learn what goes into it, you just adjust the seasonings. It will last up to a week if refrigerated, although we generally eat it up long before that.

Moroccan Beet Salad

Yield: About 12 portions as a salad with other salads


12 beets, cooked and peeled and cut into strips (I slice the beets and then cut the slices into strips)

1 rounded teaspoon minced garlic

About 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin or to taste

Kosher salt to taste

About 2-3 Tablespoons EVOO

Juice of one lemon

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, minced


Gently toss all of the ingredients together and adjust seasonings to suit your taste. No one ingredient should overwhelm. Make this several hours ahead to improve flavor. Just before serving, scatter some additional chopped fresh parsley on top.