Boneless chicken breast or thighs (Substitutes: tofu), 1-2 lb, cut into chunks
Curry paste (green or red), 2-3 heaping tbsps
Fish sauce, 1 tbsp
Coconut milk, 1 can or 1.5 cups
Scallions, 1 bunch
Garlic, 2-3 tbsp or to taste
Onions, 1-2 small onions or 1 large onion
Carrots, 3-4 carrots
Bell pepper, 2 bell peppers
Potato, 2-3 potatoes
Peanut oil (or vegetable or canola — something neutral)
Thai chilies, Sambal Olek (chili paste) or other hot pepper (optional)
Chop some potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces, toss with a little bit of oil, salt and pepper, and roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes on 450
While that’s going, cut your chicken into medium-sized chunks — you can also use already sliced chicken or chicken tenders, but I think it’s fun and rustic to DIY
In order to get a good sear on the chicken, you should heat your wok or sauté pan until it’s very hot, then throw the chicken in with a little bit of neutral-flavored oil like canola
While the chicken is browning, mince your garlic, scallions and chop your other veggies (onion, peppers, carrots
Once the chicken is cooked, but not cooked to death, take out and reserve for later, and toss veggies into the hot wok starting with the garlic to perfume the pan
Once you’ve sweated the veggies, add the scallions and deglaze the pan with some fish sauce (or soy sauce)
Add a few heaping spoonfuls of curry paste and make sure that it gets evenly distributed so that it gets incorporated throughout the dish
After cooking the curry paste into the veggies for a few minutes, add your coconut milk and mix thoroughly, and this would also be the time to add some sambal olek chili paste or dried chilies if you like a spicy curry. Can skip this if you want.
Simmer for a few minutes, then add the chicken back into the pan along with the roasted potatoes which should be done at this point. This would also be a time to add other starchy ingredients you might be using: roasted squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, tofu, etc.
Simmer uncovered for about 10-15 min so that curry thickens up
Serve immediately over noodles or rice and garnish with cilantro and Thai chilies, or put it in the fridge and eat it the next day. So delicious as leftovers — Yum!
While everything is going on, even a quick run to the grocery store has become a great feat. So, it seems like a great time to use up those items in your pantry. Something that I almost always have in my cabinet? Canned tuna.
Now, I too love a great tuna sandwich, but tuna salad gets boring after a while, amirite? Enter “Tuna Pasta Puttanesca” — this hearty, comforting pasta dish pulls double duty as not only a delicious dinner, but also uses up ingredients you might not have even remembered you had! Tomatoes, olives, capers, and our star ingredient, TUNA, make this easy meal a crowd pleaser and it’s packed with protein so will feed about 4 or 2-3 very hungry people!
Tuna Pasta Puttanesca
1lb of pasta (traditionally made with Spaghetti, but you can use any pasta)
28oz can of crushed tomatoes or your favorite jar of tomato sauce
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp of minced garlic or 3-4 cloves finely chopped
1 tin of anchovies in oil
1 small jar of capers, halfway drained
1/4 – 1/2 cup of olives — your favorite kind
2-3 tbsp of tomato paste
2 cans of tuna fish
1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Put a pot of water (at least 6-8 cups) on medium-high heat to start heating up.
In a flat sauté pan (with at least a 1/2 inch lip), add some olive oil and put over medium heat until the oil starts to shimmer.
Add the anchovies 1-2 at a time to the oil, so they start to “melt.”
Once the anchovies start breaking down, add the garlic and use the back of your spoon to spread out.
Once the garlic starts to brown, add all the herbs and red pepper flakes until you begin to smell the aroma of the herbs coming off the pan.
Add the tomato paste and break up with your spoon.
After 3-4 minutes, add the capers and olives, including half of the caper brine.
Let this cook for a few minutes until there is only a little bit of liquid left, and it is mostly solid and mixed in with the tomatoes.
Add the can of crushed tomatoes and give this a big stir to blend everything.
Once this mixture comes to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low.
In the meantime, your water should have come to a boil — make sure it’s a rolling boil!
Add a big handful of salt to the water — this step is needed to not only season the pasta but also help the sauce come together later from the starch that comes off the pasta.
Add the pasta to the water and give it a swirl.
Add the tuna to the tomato mixture and mix it into the sauce.
Cook pasta for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often to separate strands/pieces.
Once pasta is al dente (still has a slight bite), add it directly to the saucepan along with a little bit of pasta water (make sure you reserve some more pasta water for later), and bring the heat to medium/medium-high.
Toss pasta in the sauce and heat through for a few minutes so the flavors can come together.
Serve yourself a big bowl of Tuna Pasta Puttanesca — you did it! Yum!
For the last couple of years, I’ve been heavily focused on my catering company, J2Food. While the current public health crisis is going on, there are less parties and events happening, but people have still got to eat, right?!? And since we’re all stuck inside, why don’t we cook together? Enter in our new cooking series — “Cooking Under Quarantine.” Each episode will feature delicious and easy-to-make recipes that you can make at home with accessible ingredients. Perfect for chefs of all levels!
For our first episode, we’re cooking up a classic chicken dish to celebrate Shabbat (Friday night). This delicious Chicken Marsala is an easy, one pot dish that comes together in under an hour! So, it’s also great for a weeknight dinner that you want to make a little more special. This recipe is also great for veal cutlets or even tofu or a meaty fish to make it vegetarian.
We could all use a little more green in our lives, right? But eating a salad can sometimes be a bit boring. Something I can never get tired of though–roasted vegetables. It’s amazing what a little heat and seasoning can do to ordinary veggies to make them spectacular.
Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetable side dishes. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a heavy meat dish, to complete a weeknight meal, or even to be the star of the dish. Try it topped with a poached egg and hollandaise for a healthier take on traditional eggs benedict. Yum! This recipe for Herb Roasted Asparagus is so easy and comes together in no time at all. Plus, asparagus just seems so elegant and impressive–no one needs to know how easy it was to make!
Asparagus, 1-2 bunches
Herbs de Provence (can find in Trader Joe’s for a great deal)
Salt and pepper
Preheat an oven to 425 degrees
On a sheet pan, place a piece of parchment paper — while not necessary to cook, parchment paper prevents sticking and also makes for easy cleanup
Cut or break off ends of asparagus spears — if using your hands, the fibrous ends will break off naturally. You won’t want to eat these since they’re very woody and tough, but they’re excellent for soups
Toss the asparagus with enough olive oil to coat, a big pinch of salt, pepper and herbs de Provence — Remember to season aggressively!
Using a microplane or part of a box grater, add the zest of 1 lemon to the asparagus
Squeeze the juice from half of that lemon onto the asparagus as well
Roast the asparagus in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they’re tender and slightly crisp
Garnish with some fresh chopped parsley, and a squeeze of lemon
Risotto is one of those dishes that sounds super fancy–and it definitely tastes luxurious!–but is actually far easier to make at home than most people think. In fact, it doesn’t even need cream or milk to make it creamy. You just need to buy the right kind of rice and give it a little love and attention and you’ll be whipping up some restaurant worthy risotto in no time. Flavor it with your favorite mix-ins like roasted asparagus, caramelized onions, roasted butternut squash or more. Bon appetito!
Arborio rice, 2 cups — you must use arborio rice for this dish. Arborio rice has a super high starch content and this is what makes your risotto creamy and delicious!
Garlic, 5-6 cloves chopped
White wine, 1 cup
Chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you want to keep it vegetarian/dairy), 4 cups — if you wanted to do a super rich and earthy mushroom risotto, you could make some mushroom broth by rehydrating dried porcini mushrooms for a truly luxurious risotto dish!
Salt and pepper
Parmesan (or nondairy substitute such as nutritional yeast), optional but always worth it
Heat the stock in a saucepan and add any flavorings you’d like to it such as herbs, lemon juice, spices etc.
Sauté garlic in olive oil until fragrant and slightly brown. Season with salt and pepper
Add rice and toss to coat. Sauté the rice so it gets nice and toasty. This will give it a wonderful and deep flavor later on
Add about a cup of white wine of your choice — you can also use champagne, sparkling wine etc. Just make sure it’s something you like. If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it! The flavor will just concentrate as it’s cooking
Stir the rice, and once it’s absorbed the wine, start adding about a cup of broth to the rice and stir it around
Every time the rice absorbs the liquid, it needs to be stirred. As it cooks and gets stirred, it will start to release its starches which creates the creaminess that is characteristic of risotto
After about 18 minutes, you will have added several cups of liquid and the ride should be creamy and have expanded. Give it a quick taste for seasoning and to make sure the rice is al dente (should have a little bit of chew left)
Now would be the time to add anything to the risotto like some roasted asparagus, maple roasted butternut squash if you wanted to go sweet, or anything you like
Turn off the heat and add some nutritional yeast (if meat meal) to give it some umami or a cup of grated Parmesan cheese if a dairy meal and stir.
Serve while still warm. To reheat, heat risotto into a saucepan with a 1/4 cup of water and stir until steamy and ready to inhale
So I’ve recently started offering small group cooking classes through my catering company,J2Food, and the theme for the first session was all about love. It was a few days before Valentine’s Day, and it was a couples-themed class, It’s a Date! And what can be more romantic than cooking for your loved one? Or, even better, cooking together. So as I was considering what we should make for the meal, I thought we should have all foods that not only taste delicious but also look amazing and can be made by any amateur chef (and easy to clean to boot!).
Chicken Marsala is one of my favorite dishes to make for guests and even crowds. It sounds and tastes very complex, but is actually very simple to make and very impressive in its presentation and flavors. It’s a recipe that I teach all of my cousins when they go to college so that they have at least one quality trick up their sleeve to throw down. This dish is also great for a quick weeknight meal. Serve it over some herbed egg noodles, with creamy garlic mashed potatoes or even with a fresh arugula salad. Enjoy and let me know how yours turns out!
Chicken breasts, boneless – while I often opt for the more forgiving chicken thighs, it’s very traditional to use chicken breast in this recipe for texture and size
Mushrooms, halved – I like Cremini (mini portobellos), but button mushrooms or any variety are good to use. Sometimes I like to use a mix of mushrooms…you can never have too many
Bottle of Marsala wine – I would definitely use real Marsala wine (usually found in the dessert wine section near the Madeira or sherry). Resist the urge to use Marsala cooking wine found in the grocery store since those are loaded with salt and MSG.
Salt and pepper
Dried herbs – whatever your favorite flavors are (we used rosemary, thyme, and oregano)
Fresh parsley, chopped
Garlic, 8-10 cloves chopped
Pound the chicken breasts out to about 1/4-1/2 inch thickness. Doesn’t need to be super thin since these are getting twice-cooked
Add enough olive oil to a heavy-bottomed sauté pan to coat and start to heat on medium
Mix a heavy pinch of dried herbs, salt and pepper into about 1.5 cups of flour — you may need more later on, so don’t be skimpy now
Dip the chicken pieces into the seasoned flour mixture one by one to coat then add to the hot pan — How hot should the pan be? You should hear a small sizzle or see some small bubbles form around the edge of the chicken
Cook the chicken pieces for 2-3 minutes per side so they both get a slight crisp and are golden to golden brown on each side
Reserve partially cooked chicken for later to finish cooking
In the same pan, add a heaping tablespoon of chopped garlic
After the garlic has started to brown, add the mushrooms — it’s important that mushrooms have room to cook or they’ll steam instead of sautéing so don’t overcrowd the pan
One the mushrooms have cooked, add a few spoonfuls of the flour mixture to the pan and stir to coat the mushrooms and so that all of the flour gets to cook off some
After a couple of minutes, deglaze the pan with about half the bottle of Marsala — the pan should start to sizzle rapidly and this is the time for you to use your spatula/spoon to scrape up the good, crusty bits from the bottom of the pan. This is pure flavor…Yum!!!
Add about 1 cup of chicken stock to the pan, and also season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Let the sauce mixture come up to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer and cook for a couple of minutes to get rid some of the sharpness from the wine and stock
At this point, the floury mushrooms acted as our roux, and the sauce should be starting to thicken. Add the chicken back into the sauce and submerge.
Cover the pan with a lid of tight aluminum foil and cook for another 20 minutes on simmer or medium-low heat. The chicken will get nice and tender and the sauce will thicken some more
Once done, serve on a big platter with some risotto, egg noodles or mashed potatoes. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley
The other day, someone who I had met at a food festival asked me for the recipe for this Moroccan Chicken. They had eaten it at an event I had catered in Philadelphia a couple of months ago though my catering company, J2Food, and loved it. I don’t always give out some of my more secret recipes, but since she was so nice, I decided to write it up and post it here for all of you 🙂 This Moroccan Chicken dish isn’t actually cooked inside of a “tagine” pot, but it echoes a lot of the flavors that I love when I ordering tagines at Moroccan restaurants — a little bit sweet, salty, sour, savory and the protein is always fall apart tender. It’s very comforting in this winter weather, and is also great to make in the slow cooker! Let me know how yours turns out.
The other night I was thinking about what to make for dinner on my way home, when I passed by one of the ubiquitous Halal carts. I don’t know why, but whenever I pass a Halal food cart, I always take a big sniff…it just smells so good! It immediately made me think of Middle Eastern flavors with lots of spices, citrus, and conversation. That night I made chicken shawarma for dinner with fixings, and instead of using store-bought dips, I decided to make my own–and it was so easy! Rustic lemon hummus consists of a quick trip to the pantry for most of the ingredients, and roasted eggplant babaghanoush will make your fellow diners think you’re a spice savant! Try these Middle Eastern spreads at home and you’ll never feel the need to head to the grocery the next time you want to eat some hummus.
Rustic Lemon Hummus
1 can of chickpeas—canned chickpeas are super easy and always in my pantry, but dried chickpeas that you soak overnight are really the best for this recipe and will give you a cleaner flavor
3 tablespoons of tahini paste
2 lemons—juice of both, and the zest of one
1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon of salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of paprika
Rinse the chickpeas off under cold water until you get rid of all of the gunk from the can off of the chickpeas
In a food processor or blender–I only had my KitchenAid mixer available, so that’s what I used–add the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper
Start to mix all of the ingredients on low to slowly break up the chickpeas until it becomes a thick paste
Add in the rest of the spices, and gradually add the oil as you increase the speed to medium
The hummus is done when it gets to your personal consistency preference—I like mine a bit chunky—great for pita chips!
Spoon out into a bowl and eat with chips, pita, or use it was a topping for your favorite falafel. Hummus is also delicious as a spread or used in place of mayonnaise or mustard on sandwiches
Roasted Eggplant Babaghanoush
1 large eggplant
1 1/2 tablespoon of smoked paprika—this goes well with the roasted and charred eggplant, but regular paprika works just as well
1 1/2 tablespoon of cumin—add the extra teaspoon if you don’t have smoked paprika. The cumin has a natural smokiness that can compensate
4 garlic cloves, grated
1 1/2 tablespoons of salt
2 teaspoons of black pepper
1 tablespoon fo fresh parsley, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons of tahini paste
1/4 of an onion, grated
Hot sauce (to taste)—I like mine spicy, but this dip is delicious mild as well
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit
Cut your eggplant in half lengthwise—Resist the urge to peel it at this point! The peel will not only help keep moisture in the eggplant flesh, but also hold it together in the oven.
Use a fork or sharp paring knife to poke holes into the eggplant skin all over
Rub the flesh side with olive oil and season with 1/2 tablespoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 1/2 tablespoon of paprika and 1/2 tablespoon of cumin
Roast the eggplant for 20-25 minutes until the skin is charred and the flesh becomes slightly creamy and the outside if browned—you want the skin to get black
Once the eggplant has cooled a bit, but still hot, use a knife or fork to remove the charred skin—it should come off very easily
Discard the skin and spoon the flesh into the bowl of a mixer or food processor
Pulse together the eggplant with the remaining ingredients until it comes together in a thick dip—feel free to blend it as much as you’d like
Serve similarly to the hummus, and garnish with a squeeze of lemon juice and extra parsley, and enjoy—One of my favorite ways to consume the eggplant is to make sabich, an Iraqi sandwich that consists of hard boiled eggs and fried eggplant on fresh pita bread. Babaghanoush would be a wonderful substitute for the traditional fried eggplant, and maybe add some salty feta cheese to give the sandwich a rich umami flavor
All I know is that both of these spreads are absolutely delicious, and are perfect for any dinner party or even an afternoon snack. You can also feel free to customize your hummus and babaghanoush—substitute cilantro for the parsley for a more Mexican version, top your hummus with some mushrooms sautéed with zhatar spice, or make a festive zucchini version of babaghanoush and spread it on some thick toast and top with avocado. Yummy! I love to simply serve them with some homemade pita chips!
The other day I was in the mood to make some fish tacos at home, but the local market I went to only had these small onion flatbreads. So, I decided to scrap the idea for the night. The flatbreads actually turned out deliciously for my “new” tacos—or really chalupas maybe—and I ended up having a few of them leftover. So I thought of what I could do with a flatbread and was feeling in a very Mediterranean mood. I felt this was a very appropriate recipe since I’ve dedicated the last couple of weeks of blog posts to my recent vacation in the Middle East, and decided to do a fusion of Greek and Israeli cuisines.
These (not so mini!) lamb flatbreads were an experiment, but I knew the flavor combinations would mesh well together. The spicy lamb mixture, the creamy and tangy feta sauce, the briny pickled red onions and the soft, chewy onion flatbreads make a killer combination for dinner, appetizers or even to entertain!
1 lb. of ground lamb
8 oz block of Feta cheese–I’m going to echo the Barefoot Contessa by saying that you should make sure to use a quality feta in your dish—preferably Greek or Bulgarian
1/2 cup of lemon juice
1 cup of Greek yogurt, plain
1 teaspoon of mint, dried
6 large garlic cloves (or 8-9 small cloves)
2 teaspoons of black pepper
(optional) Balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Oregano
7-8 dried red chilies
1/2 can of pitted Black olives
1 teaspoon Olive oil
1 large red onion
1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons of salt
1 tablespoon Sugar
1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
In the food processor, add the 3/4 of the feta cheese, lemon juice, yogurt, mint, 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper
Whir it up until the feta is completely broken up, but the sauce still has some consistency to it—I like my sauce to still have some body to it, but blend to your own preference
Taste for seasoning!—I don’t add any salt since the feta is already so salty, but everyone has a different palette.
Pickled red onions:
Peel and slice the red onion thinly and place into a sieve or pasta strainer with small holes
In a jar or bowl—whatever canister you’d like to use to make your onions, I use a mason jar for my leftover—pour the sugar, tablespoon of salt and crushed red pepper
Cover with water and fill the jar, but leave enough room for the onions as well. Stir to dissolve
Add the vinegar—plain white vinegar is alright as well. Even rice wine vinegar could make these delicious for a banh mi sandwich
Boil a few cups of water in a kettle or on the stove, and when the water comes to a boil, pour over the onions
Place the par-blanched onions into the sugar-salt bowl. There should be enough water/vinegar mixture to cover all of the onions
Leave for at least one hour, but I left mine most of the day
In your food processor—no worries if it has residual sauce, it’s all going on the same dish—finely chop the olives, chilis, and remaining garlic
Mix together the lamb, salt, cumin, oregano, chile-olive-garlic mixture, olive oil, and the rest of the pepper in a bowl—use your hands to really get the meat to absorb the marinade
Don’t mix the mixture too much or you might make the meat tough when it eventually cooks
Let the meat sit and absorb the spices and marinade ingredients for at least 30-45 minutes and up to overnight
To assemble the flatbreads:
Lay flatbreads flat on a baking sheet—a pita or even naan bread would be a good substitute. Just make sure you use a bread that has a large flat surface and has some heft to it
Spoon some feta sauce on the bread and spread around the surface with a spoon to almost the edge—I put a good amount of sauce, but don’t use it all!
Using your hands, spread the equal amounts of the lamb mixture onto each flatbread and form into semi thick layer—at first I was going to cook the lamb first, but actually ended up forgetting to. By the time I remembered, it has already started cooking and the fat from the lamb ends up absorbed by the bread and flavored the whole dish amazingly
Sprinkle some feta over the top of the lamb, and slide these babies into the oven
Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes—some ovens vary so if your oven tends to get super high, maybe stay on 350 instead
Remove from oven and let rest for a couple of minutes
Scatter some picked red onions all over the flatbreads after it comes out of the oven
Crumble some fresh feta over the top, as well as a few dollops of feta sauce
This last step is purely optional, but I thought it gives it a wonderful fruity afternoon and a bit of panache. Pour a little bit of thick balsamic vinegar over the top to garnish. I used a deliciously thick grapefruit, white balsamic that I had in the pantry
Slice with a pizza cutter and enjoy! Απολαύστε το γεύμα σας!
When I asked people what their favorite breakfast food was, I got a lot of answers—French toast, pancakes, oatmeal, smoothies, Cheerios, etc. The most common answer I got was eggs. The incredible, edible egg is a common, but delicious ingredient. It can top your burger to give you that runny yolk that adds a new level of decadence, be incorporated into a cake batter, baked into a quiche for company, or just hard-boiled. Personally, I love a great plate of soft scrambled eggs. It makes a fabulous breakfast, or a simple, weekday dinner. There are a lot of methods that people use to get their eggs perfectly scrambled—some with sour cream, milk, oil—I am an egg purist. The secret to my perfectly fluffy scrambled eggs: extra egg…and patience. This recipe takes some time, but it’s worth it!
1 tablespoon (or ⅛ of a stick of butter)
Salt + Pepper
Crack 2-3 eggs into a bowl.
Crack the last egg and add just the yolk into the bowl—you can save the egg white, maybe whip it for a meringue or incorporate it into a protein shake. While egg yolks may have a higher amount of cholesterol, they also contain lots of vitamins and iron. The extra yolk in this dish not only keeps the eggs moist and soft, but also helps it keep its distinctive yellow color.
Add a pinch of salt and black pepper to the eggs.
Using a fork, beat the eggs in a counter-clockwise direction from top to bottom. If it helps, tilt the bowl as you whip the eggs in the circular motion. Mixing the eggs this way will also help with the fluffy texture.
In a medium sauté pan, add your butter and heat on low
When the butter starts to melt, add your egg mixture to the pan
Using a rubber spatula scrape the bottom and sides of the pan
Keep cooking, continually moving the eggs around in the pan for 5-10 minutes. The eggs will start to solidify and come together, just make sure to constantly mix it up
Once the eggs are cooked, but still shiny and look slightly wet, turn the heat off and get your toast or sides ready—it might seem raw, but the eggs are cooked and safe to eat.
Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on the eggs to finish them off. The mixture will be fluffy, moist and you don’t need cheese with these eggs since they are so soft and luxurious. A nice addition might be some fresh herbs though, like dill or parsley. Yum!