Category Archives: Side

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Event: Coppell Farmer’s Market


This past weekend my friend Eric and I decided to go on an adventure — to Coppell Farmer’s Market! I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter helped me host a farm to table lunch.  The mission was to choose a local farmer’s market, find some wonderful fresh produce then go home and make a meal using ICBINB products and farm fresh produce.  Originally I had a pretty strong group going but then the morning of (we had to leave at 9am) the group quickly dwindled down to one.  YES, one. In amidst of questioning my popularity, Eric arrived at my place and I had to think fast.  So I knocked him out with a frying pan, tied him up and threw him in my car — GOTCHYA, there’s no escaping now!

 Okay so maybe that’s not how it happened exactly but don’t worry, no one got hurt. 

 

The two of us ventured out to Coppell,TX and found the wonderful farmer’s market.  Though the market was relatively small compared to the Dallas Farmer’s Market, I really enjoyed a lot of the vendors here.  The entire shopping experience was less daunting, with about 25-30 tents compared to the 100s at the DFM.  They had all your neccesities — fruits, vegetables, grass-fed meats, honey and jams, fresh herbs, fresh breads and my favorite…a sorbet stand.  But I’ll get to that later.

There was a wonderful bread stand from Village Baking Co. — by the time I got there it was slim pickins so I figured the bread must be good.  We chose the last Jalapeno Cheddar Loaf, because the cute guy selling the bread said it was his favorite — what can I say, I’m a sucker for blonde hair and blue eyes AND JALAPENOS AND CHEDDAR! I warmed it up in the oven when I got home — it was quite delicious with melted pockets of cheddar cheese and jalapeno slices scattered in every bite.  It was money for sure.

 OKAY now this was my favorite stand by far.  The folks at Savoy Sorbet are magical — they make these sorbets that are not only all natural but they are freaking DELICIOUS.  They call it “like catnip for humans!” because it’d probably be inapproriate to write “like crack for humans!” because that’s how addicting it was.  I wanted to buy the entire truck of sorbets and bury my face in it — but apparently that’s un-lady like.  I tried the lavender which was bright yet floral but it didn’t taste like soap (which I thought it would) it was truly the most elegant sorbet I’ve ever tasted.  But my favorite by far had to be the Chamomile Orange, which tasted like sunshine rainbows and hugs.  Don’t believe me?  Try it out yourself.  With the sweltering heat that day, there couldn’t have been a better tasting remedy. 

We picked up the last of the summer squash — zucchini and yellow squash, sweet yellow corn and a couple pounds of tasty grass fed ground beef and lamb sausage for our lunch menu.  We also swiped up some fresh SPICY salsa and corn tortillas and a watermelon (that turned out to be a dud). 

I kept the corn simple — after Eric cleaned and husked the corn, I just threw them in a pot of boiling water for 3-4 minutes and served them as-is.  That’s the beauty of fresh produce, you don’t have to do much to it to get great flavors.  We used some ICBINB spray and sprinkled some seasoning salt ontop — you can opt for lemon-pepper, cajun seasoning, or just plain salt and pepper.  I gave mine a dash of cayenne, cuz everyone can use a kick every once in awhile 🙂  

For the veggies I diced the zucchini and yellow squash in to 1″ pieces and blanched them with some french green beans.  In a medium sauce pan I sauteed some minced garlic and shallot along with some salt and pepper with some ICBINB spray and tossed the veggies in the mixture.  Again, very simple to do and the veggies tasted fresh and crunchy — I love blanching my vegetables for that very reason — my heart always hurts a little when I taste overcooked mushy vegetables.  You are not only losing a lot of nutritional value that way but the beautiful natural flavors go away too! 

Ah, last but not least!  Our 1/2 lb grass fed beef burgers.  I bought Hawaiian hamburger buns (YES THEY MAKE THOSE!!) and the sweetness of the bread really complimented the earthiness and savory flavors of the beef.  I seasoned the patties with some cayenne and some coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  When making the patties, if you poke a hole through the center (like a meat donut) it helps it cook faster.  I cooked the patties similar to the way I’d cook a steak –preheat your oven to 400F, heat up your skillet at medium-high heat and add your butter (I used ICBINB spray in this case).  Once the butter is bubbling sear your meat patties, about 3 minutes on each side at medium-high heat and finish the rest of the way in the oven (about 4-5 minutes) you can use a meat thermometer to get the perfect doneness level as follows.

Rare
Medium-rare
Medium
Medium-well
Well done
120° – 125°
130° – 135°
140° – 145°
150° – 155°
160° and above

  Everyone loved the farm to table lunch — everyone being me, Eric, Collin and the guy who helped us dig a ditch that day (We’re installing a french drain so I can have my deck for my housewarming party, my fiance will claim I am a slave driver but I urge everyone not to listen to his lies.)  I’d like to thank I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter for hosting the event, it was a blast!

Here is some additional info on I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter —

  • 0 Calories per serving
  • 0g Fat per serving
  • No gydrogenated oils
  • Is made from a blend of vegetable oils like vanola and soy
  • has no cholesterol

You can find additional recipes at I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter where they also have giveaways and promotions, so check it out!

Dover Sole with a Raw Summer Coucous


There are many things in life that are unpredictable — but there’s one thing I’ve always believed every person is able to control and that is his/her health.  Sure we are inclined to certain genetic factors, however by maintaining a healthy diet, exercise regimen and an overall spiritual well-being we can insure ourselves a better life.  Too often I will see friends and family eating foods that clearly are not beneficial to them, whether it be processed foods like microwavable meals, mystery meats or foods high in sugars and sodium found in candies and snacks to high saturated fats in meats, cheeses and fried foods.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no saint myself. There will be times where there are no other options but the bad, but what can you do? Socially ostracize yourself and only eat at home?  Subjecting yourself to a life of healthy eating but suffer the consequences of lonely solitude?  No not necessarily.  But being conscious of what we put into our bodies is better than living in ignorance, which in this case will not bring you bliss but a myriad of health problems — high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes just to name a few.

Maybe next time when you go out to eat with friends, opt out for the vegetarian option or maybe a salad (with no dressing). With most lessons in life, prevention is key, the whole “better safe than sorry” shpeal makes a lot more sense now that I’m older.  How can you even imagine enjoying your retirement when you can barely climb up a flight of stairs?  Or not be able to travel on a plane or even a train because of your heart condition?  How can your mind possibly be in a good mood when everything inside your body constantly hurts?  These are all important things we need to think about at an early age, and for those that are older, it is never too late to change.

I received this e-mail this week from Mommy Wells about causes of cancer along with cancer prevention techniques and really wanted to share it with you guys.  The following information was obtained from John Hopkins Research —

  • Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer
    cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have
    multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients
    that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after
    treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the
    cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable
    size.
  • Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a
    person’s lifetime.
  • When the person’s immune system is strong the cancer
    cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and
    forming tumors.
  • When a person has cancer it indicates the person has
    nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic,
    but also to environmental, food and lifestyle factors.
  • To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing
    diet
    to eat more adequately and healthy, 4-5 times/day and by including supplements will strengthen the immune system.
  • An effective way to battle cancer is to starve the cancer
    cells by not feeding it with the foods it needs to multiply.

Cancer Cells Feed On:

  • Sugar substitutes like NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, etc are made with Aspartame and it is harmful. A better natural substitute would be Manuka honey or molasses, but only in very small amounts. Table salt has a chemical added to make it white in color Better alternative is Bragg’s aminos or sea salt.
  • Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the gastro-intestinal tract. Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and substituting with unsweetened soy milk cancer cells are being starved.
  • Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment. A meat-based diet is acidic and it is best to eat fish, and a little other meat, like chicken. Meat also contains livestock antibiotics growth hormones and parasites, which are all harmful, especially to people with cancer.
  • A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seeds, nuts and a little fruits help put the body into an alkaline environment. About 20% can be from cooked food including beans. Fresh vegetable juices provide live enzymes that are easily absorbed and reach down to cellular levels within 15 minutes to nourish and enhance growth of healthy cells. To obtain live enzymes for building healthy cells try and drink fresh vegetable juice (most vegetables including bean sprouts) and eat some raw vegetables 2 or 3 times a day. Enzymes are destroyed at temperatures of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C)
  • Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, which have high caffeine Green tea is a better alternative and has cancer fighting properties. Water-best to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins and heavy metals in tap water. Distilled water is acidic, avoid it.
  • Meat protein is difficult to digest and requires a lot of digestive enzymes. Undigested meat remaining in the intestines becomes putrefied and leads to more toxic buildup.
  • Cancer cell walls have a tough protein covering. By refraining from or eating less meat it frees more enzymes to attack the protein walls of cancer cells and allows the body’s killer cells to destroy the cancer cells.

Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and positive spirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor. Anger, un-forgiveness and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment. Learn to
have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life.

Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Exercising daily, and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer
cells.

1. No plastic in microwaves.

2. No water bottles in freezer.

3. No plastic wrap in microwave.

Dioxin chemicals cause cancer, especially breast cancer. Dioxins are highly poisonous to the cells of our bodies. Don’t freeze your plastic bottles with water in them as this releases dioxins from the plastic. Recently, Dr Edward Fujimoto, Wellness Program Manager at Castle Hospital , was on a TV program to explain this health hazard. He talked about dioxins and how bad they are for us. He said that we should not be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers. This especially applies to foods that contain fat. He said that the combination of fat, high heat, and plastics releases dioxin into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body. Instead, he recommends using glass, such as Corning Ware, Pyrex or ceramic containers for heating food. You get the same results, only without the dioxin. So such things as TV dinners, instant ramen and soups, etc., should be removed from the container and heated in something else. Paper isn’t bad but you don’t know what is in the paper. It’s just safer to use tempered glass, Corning Ware, etc. He reminded us that a while ago some of the fast food restaurants moved away from the foam containers to paper The dioxin problem is one of the reasons. Also, he pointed out that plastic wrap, such as Saran, is just as dangerous when placed over foods to be cooked in the microwave. As the food is nuked, the high heat causes poisonous toxins to actually melt out of the plastic wrap and drip into the food. Cover food with a paper towel instead.

What better way to share healthy information than to pair it with a healthy (yummy) recipe? 🙂 I discovered Dover Sole while working at a French restaurant, since then it has become one of my favorite fish.  The meat is very delicate and moist, but because it is very thin it cooks very quickly.  Therefore, when cooking your dover be sure not to over cook the fish or it will taste dry.

I paired the dover with a raw summer couscous that I found in Raw, a cookbook written by Charlie Trotter and Roxanne Klein.  I found it interesting that they put red grapes with the cauliflower.  I was quite hesitant about it at first but it really put the finishing touches on the couscous itself, providing a very nice sweetness and playfulness to this dish both in flavors and textures.

Ingredients for Raw Summer Couscous:

  • 1 cup cauliflower, finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup red bell pepper, small diced
  • 1/8 cup yellow bell pepper, small diced
  • 1/8 cup parsley, minced
  • 1 cup grapes, washed and halved
  • 1/2 cup radish, small diced
  • 1/8 cup raw honey
  • 1/2 lemon squeezed
  • salt pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice and honey together.  Place the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix with honey lemon mixture.  Taste with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and serve with dover sole.

Ingredients for Dover Sole: (serves 2)

  • 2 x 6oz dover sole fillets
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon shallot, minced
  • salt pepper to taste

In a large sauce pan melt the butter over medium heat (about 4-6) and once it is bubbling add the minced garlic and saute for about a minute.  Season the fillets lightly with salt and pepper and fry 3 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of the fillets it may take longer, but remember that the fish will also continue to cook once it is taken off the pan so plan accordingly!). You can check the “doneness” of the fish by using the tip of the knife or fork — if it pierces through the flesh easily, it is done, if it still feels rubbery it needs more cooking time. Serve immediately with couscous.

To Plate:

I topped my plate off with some orange segments — I always love a little citrus with my fish.  Feel free to leave it off.  Using a hollowed out can or cookie ring cutter (I used a 4″ ring), fill the mold with the couscous mixture.  Immediately plated the fish once it has finished cooking and garnish with orange segments.  This dish would go well with a glass of Pinot Grigio or a Sauvignon Blanc.

I think dishes like these are perfect for the summer.  The contrast in textures, the whimsical bright colors and flavors — all it takes is a little creativity to make eating healthy…fun! Bon appetit and hope everyone is having a fabulous summer :).

Shakespeare in the Park


Every Summer and Fall, one of my favorite outdoor events to attend in Dallas is Shakespeare in the Park. They feature different plays every year and this Summer they are holding Cymbeline and The Comedy of Errors.  It’s a great opportunity to spend time with friends and family, what can be better on a warm Summer’s night than a picnic with a side of Shakespeare?

“As the area’s veteran producers of Shakespeare in the Park, Shakespeare Dallas has invited audiences to enjoy accessible productions in an open-air amphitheatre since 1971, reaching over 50,000 people every summer and fall.” — Shakespeare Dallas

As celebration for this Summer’s Shakespeare in the Park, I have come up with a simple and healthy Picnic menu!  Though you can bring anything you like on your own picnic, I’ve included some easy recipes and suggestions to help you plan a picnic fit for kings 🙂 Below is some additional information on Shakespeare Dallas and short synopsis of the performances playing this summer.

Cymbeline
By William Shakespeare
Directed by SD Artistic Associate Rene Moreno

Previews: June 16-17
Opening: June 18
Continuing June 29 through July 24
on Sundays, Tuesdays and Saturdays
With additional performances on June 19 & 20

Performances begin at 8:15 p.m. at the Samuell-Grand Amphitheatre

“Golden lads and girls all must, as chimney-sweepers, come to dust.”

Shakespeare weaves a tale of the beautiful princess Imogen and her new husband, Posthumous, parted by circumstances invoked by her wicked stepmother and her distant father, the King Cymbeline of Britain. Posthumous’ impoverished state makes him undesirable to King Cymbeline as a match to his prized daughter. Under the influence of his wife, King Cymbeline banishes Posthumous and confines Imogen to the castle. While exiled in Rome, Posthumous meets the foul Iachimo who finagles him into a wager on Imogen’s chastity. Iachimo goes to Britain and through trickery gains access to Imogen’s bedchamber. He manages to slide off a bracelet Posthumous gave Imogen to use as proof. Posthumous believes Iachimo’s treachery, and enraged, sends his faithful servant Pisanio to murder Imogen in retribution — although when he learns falsely of her death, he is devastated and repents his action. Imogen, meanwhile, has escaped to Wales in man’s clothing, unknowingly meets up with her long-lost brothers and is eventually reunited with her husband and the truth is revealed amidst the victory of Britain against Rome.

Fri. & Sat.: $10 adults/$7 seniors and students.
Tues. – Thurs. & Sun.: $10 donation requested.
Children 12 and under are free.

Samuell-Grand Amphitheatre
1500 Tenison Parkway
Dallas, Texas 75223


The Comedy of Errors
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Matthew Tomlanovich

Previews: June 24-25
Opening: June 26
Continuing June 30-July 23 on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
With an additional performance on June 27.
*Please note there are no performances on June 22 or June 23.

Performances begin at 8:15 p.m. at the Samuell-Grand Amphitheatre

“Was there ever any man thus beaten out of season,
When in the why and the wherefore is neither rhyme nor reason?”

Take one pair of estranged twins (both called Antipholous) and one pair of twin servants (both called Dromio), keep them in ignorance of each other and throw them into a city with a reputation for sorcery and you have the chief ingredients for theatrical chaos. Fast-paced, hilarious and seemingly irreverent, the young William Shakespeare explores themes in this comedy that recur again and again in his later work: mistaken identity, coincidence and the importance of family.

Fri. & Sat.: $10 adults/$7 seniors and students.
Tues. – Thurs. & Sun.: $10 donation requested.
Children 12 and under are free.

Samuell-Grand Amphitheatre
1500 Tenison Parkway
Dallas, Texas 75223

Season Sponsors
570 KLIF, 1310 The Ticket, Brierley+Partners , City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, City of Dallas Parks and Recreation Department, e-Rewards Market Research, Fossil, Star Newspapers, TACA, Target, Texas Commission on the Arts, The Dallas Morning News, The Hall Agency

Shakespeare Dallas
3630 Harry Hines Blvd. Dallas, TX 75219
(214) 559-2778

———————————



The Perfect Summer Picnic Menu

Assorted Cheeses and Fruit Platter

Smoked Gouda, Bleu Cheese, Colby Jack, Fresh Strawberries, Green Grapes, Apricots with Rosemary Triscuits

Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad

with broccoli, tomatoes, corn, avocado, red onion, and black beans

Finger Sandwich Platter

cucumber tea sandwiches with cream cheese and sprouts & vegetable sandwiches with hummus and olive oil

Summer Fruit Salad

cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, blueberries, raspberries, green grapes soaked in honey and vanilla

Ingredients for Assorted Cheese and Fruit Plate : (serves 4-6)

  • 8 oz Smoked Gouda
  • 8 oz Bleu Cheese
  • 8 oz Mozzarella
  • 8 oz Colby Jack
  • 1 box Rosemary & Olive Oil Triscuits
  • 8 oz Fresh Strawberries, cleaned and hulled
  • 8 oz Green Grapes, cleaned
  • 8 oz Apricots

Bring a cheese knife and board along with you on the picnic, if you do not have these items a simple butter knife and paper plate will suffice.  Arrange the cheese crackers and fruits to your liking and serve with a nice Riesling or light red like a Pinot or Syrah.

Also feel free to experiment with fruits and cheeses.  You can use other fruits such as apples, figs, raspberries or peaches.  Or perhaps try interesting cheeses like a sharp Gruyere, a creamy Brie or maybe a nice mild Cheddar.  You can find a helpful wine and cheese pairing guide at Gourmet Sleuth here.

Ingredients for Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad: (serves 4-6)

  • 1 lb of Fusili or Penne Pasta, cooked
  • 1 cup of broccoli florettes, blanched
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup fresh yellow/white corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup of red onion, small diced
  • 1/2 cup of black beans
  • 1/4 cup of green bell pepper, small diced
  • 1/4 cup of red bell pepper, small diced
  • 1 avocado, pitted and small diced
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a tablespoon of salt.  Pour in the dry pasta and cook for 4-6 minutes or otherwise stated on the package.  Once pasta is “al dente” or semi-firm, strain pasta and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.  In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients listed above and toss with cooked pasta.  If more salt/seasoning is needed, simply add additional flavor according to your taste.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Ingredients for Finger Sandwich Platter: (serves 4-6)

  • 1 french baguette, sliced into 1/2″ rounds
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
  • 1 cup spring mix
  • 1 cup hummus
  • 1 english cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cream cheese
  • 1 cup of sprouts
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

To assemble cucumber sandwiches, take your baguette rounds and slather each side generously with cream cheese.  Add sliced cucumber and sprouts and hold together with toothpicks.  Sprinkle with cracked black pepper and refrigerate til ready to serve.

To assemble veggie sandwiches, take your baguette rounds and slather each side generously with hummus.  Place the field greens, tomatoes, avocado and onion in between and hold together with toothpicks.  Refrigerate and drizzle with olive oil when ready to serve.

You can make all different types of sandwiches — ham and cheese, turkey and swiss, blts — feel free to be creative!  You can also assemble the sandwiches at the picnic, just bring your pre-sliced ingredients and allow your guests to make their own.

Ingredients for Summer Fruit Salad (serves 4-6):

  • 1/2 cantaloupe
  • 1/2 honey dew
  • 1/4 watermelon
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 1 pint of raspberries
  • 2 cups grapes
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 fresh vanilla bean

Using a melon baller, remove the seeds from the cantaloupe and honeydew.  Carve as many melon balls you can get from the cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon.  Set aside.  Reserve the remainder of the melon scraps for a refreshing juice.

Place balls in a large bowl and add the berries and grapes.  Whisk the honey with the vanilla extract/bean and pour over the fruit mixture.  Allow the fruit salad to “marinate” for at least an hour before serving.

Now remember when I told you to set the melon caracasses behind?  Well you can use the leftover melons to make a refreshing drink for the picnic! Now take the melon scraps you set aside and scrape off as much of the flesh as you can.  Transfer the juices and melon flesh into a large bowl or jar and mix with a cup of simple syrup, blend throughly with a hand held blender.

Ingredients for Simple Syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool.

If you want to make other drinks you can try this refreshing Mango Lemonade and Watermelon Lemonade or perhaps some of my Limeades !  Simply serve over ice and you are ready to go 🙂

I hope everyone who lives in Dallas takes the time to take part of Shakespeare in the Park.  It truly is a wonderful experience!  Not only do you get a picnic under the stars (boys, girls like these things) but you get to watch talented actors and actresses from Shakespeare Dallas put on an amazing performance.  Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend, and remember — no picnic is complete without a picnic basket :)!  (I got mine from Target for $15)

Cinnamon Curry Roasted Chicken with Tomato Yogurt Sauce


One of the most common questions I get is “What’s the easiest and most impressive dinner I can make for friends?” My response is always Roasted Chicken. It’s relatable, always delicious and easy to make.  There are so many different varieties — herb roasted, lemon pepper, cajun, the possibilities are left to your imagination.  You can pair it with a salad, or rice, any type of veggie, I guarantee your guests will leave with happy stomachs and a full heart!

There’s something magical about roasted chickens — perhaps it’s the down-to- earth simplicity, the intoxicating flavors and smells, the comfort that seems to spread to the deepest corners of your soul — okay got a little overly dramatic there, but you get the idea.

Today I am taking a page from the big boss, Oprah Winfrey, is there anything that woman can’t do?  In the Oprah Magazine Cookbook I found this beautiful recipe for a Cinnamon Curry Roasted Chicken.  I made a few changes which I will note in parentheses and then came up with two sides that I felt would pair well — Coconut Basmati Rice and some Saffron Garlic Skillet Potatoes.  The flavors of the spices were out of this world, I loved the boldness of the cardamom and the spicy sweetness of the cinnamon.  O-M-G talk about flavor heaven!  The recipe was by Chef Rori Trovato — “It’s a little bit sweet, a litte bit daring.  It’s cinnamon, and it’s probably sitting right there in your pantry.”

Ingredients for Cinnamon Roasted Chicken: (Makes 2-3 servings)

  • 1 (3-4 lb) roasting chicken
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 green cardamom pods ( I used 5)
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder (I also added 1/2 Tbsp of Garam Masala powder)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I also added 1/2 tsp red chili powder)
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and unpeeled, plus 6 cloves, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 shallots, unpeeled and quartered
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup chicken broth

Ingredients for Tomato Yogurt Sauce:

  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt, room temperature (I used fat-free)
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro

***I also brined the chicken, it retains more moisture in the meat.  I have included the ingredients and direction below.

Ingredients for Brine:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 green cardamom pods ( I used 5)
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder (I also added 1/2 Tbsp of Garam Masala powder)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I also added 1/2 tsp red chili powder)
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and unpeeled, plus 6 cloves, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 6 cups ice water

Take your spices and ground them in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle.  For the brine, combine the water, salt, sugar, and spices in a large saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar.  Reduce to heat to low and simmer for 10 min so the flavors of the herbs can be drawn out. Pour the brine into a deep set large bowl and cool it down with your ice water.  Set aside.

Clean the chicken by rinsing out the cavity and outer skin and place on a clean surface.  Be sure not to contaminate any vegetables or other ingredients, because no one is a fan of salmonella!  Place the chicken in the brine,  make sure it is completely immersed in the brine.  Cover and allow to marinate for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

To make the chicken: Preheat oven to 400F.  Pat chicken dry with paper towels.  Place on a rack in a small roasting pan or baking dish.  Set aside.  In a small frying pan over medium heat, combine cumin seeds, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, and cardamom pods.  Swirl until lightly toasted and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool slightly; grind using a mortar and pestle (or a coffee grinder).  Mix with curry powder, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes.

Finely chop peeled garlic cloves and combine with ginger and olive oil in a small bowl.  Rub mixture over entire chicken.  Sprinkle with salt, then with spice mixture.  Place unpeeled garlic, shallots, and cinnamon sticks inside chicken cavity.  Tie legs with kitchen string.  Roast 30 minutes before basting with 1/2 cup chicken broth.  Roast 20 minutes more, then baste with remaining 1/2 cup broth.  Continue cooking until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a knife and meat is no longer pink, about 1 hour and 15 minutes total.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.

To make the sauce: Transfer juices from pan into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Slowly add in the yogurt, stirring constantly with a whisk so yogurt doesn’t curdle.  Remove from heat.  Add most of the tomatoes and cilantro, setting some aside to garnish top of the chicken.  Serve with sauce on side.

Ingredients for Saffron Garlic Skillet Potatoes:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3/4 pound boiling or baking potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch of saffron

n a small bowl stir together the butter and the oil along with the saffron and garlic. In a food processor fitted with a 1-millimeter slicing blade or with a mandoline or similar hand-held slicing device, slice the potatoes thin. Working quickly to prevent the potatoes from discoloring, brush the bottom of a 9-inch cast-iron skillet with some of the butter mixture and cover it with a layer of the potato slices, overlapping them. Brush the potatoes with some of the remaining saffron buttermixture and season them with salt and pepper. Layer the remaining potatoes with the remaining saffron butter mixture in the same manner.

eat the mixture over moderately high heat until it begins to sizzle, transfer the skillet to the middle of a preheated 450°F. oven, and bake the galette for 25 minutes, or until it is golden and the potatoes are tender. Cut the galette into wedges or you can cut them with a circle cutter.

Ingredients for Coconut Basmati Rice:

  • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked Basmati rice

In a saucepan, combine coconut milk, water, sugar, and salt. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in rice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 18 to 20 minutes, until rice is tender.

Israeli Hummus with Paprika and Whole Chickpeas


I decided to take a break from Shanghai and introduce this wonderful recipe I found through Food and Wine.  I was instantly drawn to this recipe for its simplicity– made with wholesome healthy ingredients it not only goes great as a dip but is awesome in sandwiches, salads, and wraps.  This recipe is from Chef Michael Solomonov who was born in G’nei Yehudah, Israel and was raised in Pittsburgh. In May 2008, Michael opened Zahav in Philadelphia, where his main influences come from the traditional cuisine of his native Israel.

An excerpt from chef Michael Solomonov in Food and Wine  states —

“Before opening Zahav restaurant in Philadelphia, chef Michael Solomonov visited hummus parlors all over Israel trying to find the best recipe. “Hummus is the hardest thing to get right,” he says. “It has to be rich, creamy and mildly nutty.” To make his hummus luxuriously smooth, he soaks the chickpeas overnight with baking soda to soften them. While Americans now flavor hummus with everything from pureed red peppers to fresh herbs, Solomonov says among the fanciest garnishes you can find in Israel are whole chickpeas, paprika and lemon-spiked tahini, used for hummus masabacha.”

Ingredients for Israeli Hummus with Paprika and Whole Chickpeas:

  • 1/2 pound dried chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 7 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup tahini, at room temperature (see Note)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Paprika, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Pita bread, for serving

In a medium bowl, cover the dried chickpeas with 2 inches of water and stir in the baking soda. Refrigerate the chickpeas overnight. Drain the chickpeas and rinse them under cold water.

In a medium saucepan, cover the chickpeas with 2 inches of fresh water. Add the garlic cloves and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately low heat until the chickpeas are tender, about 40 minutes. Drain, reserving 10 tablespoons of the cooking water and 2 tablespoons of the chickpeas. Rinse the chickpeas under cold water. Peel the garlic cloves.

In a food processor, puree the chickpeas with 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water, 1/4 cup of the olive oil and 6 of the garlic cloves. Add the cumin along with 1/4 cup each of the tahini and lemon juice and process until creamy. Season the hummus with salt and transfer to a serving bowl. Wipe out the food processor. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of tahini, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of reserved cooking water, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and garlic clove and puree.

Using a ladle, make an indent in the center of the hummus. Spoon in the tahini-lemon mixture. Sprinkle the hummus with the cumin and paprika. Garnish with the reserved whole chickpeas and the parsley, and serve with pita bread.

I like making fresh hummus at home without the weird preservatives that you find in-store.  It’s made of pure ingredients: organic chickpeas, extra virgin olive oil, tahini, lemon juice with paprika and cumin to finish it off — it’s amazingly simple yet delicious.  To learn the proper way to soak legumes and obtain the maximum nutrients, my friend Divina offers a wonderful guide here.  Chickpeas rich in protein and folate, are high in dietary fiber which results in healthy colons and lowers your risk for diabetes and heart disease.