Sunday, February 27, 2011

kale, beets, and soba noodles with lemon ginger dressing

I make this dish whenever I feel like I need a serious nutritional boost. Between the vegetables and the dressing, it's packed with vitamins and nutrients and tastes sensational. I recommend it even if you dislike kale or beets, as the lemon ginger dressing really livens up the taste of the vegetables.

The dish consists of beets, kale, carrots, and soba noodles, a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat. Feel free to substitute the soba with spaghetti or any other kind of pasta or grain. If you want to add protein to this dish, tofu works well and looks beautiful, as it picks up the gorgeous pink coloring of the beets. Just chop some up and throw it into the final dish.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

turkish breakfast

Recently Katarina and Jakub, two of my favorite people in New York joined me for a Turkish-inspired breakfast, in spite of the freezing cold that separated us. They brought copious amounts of champagne and orange juice, and we feasted and siesta-d until the sun went down.

The menu for the day included labne, a rich, thickened yogurt, sweetened with honey and dates; beautiful roasted eggplant topped with a buttermilk sauce and pomegranates; and a mouthwatering Lebanese flatbread called manaaeesh, which is vaguely reminiscent of Italian foccacia bread.

The recipe for the eggplant can be found in Yotan Ottolenghi's spectacular vegetarian cookbook, Plenty, which my friend Andrew brought me from London last Christmas and which I have been poring and swooning over ever since.

So, per Katarina's request, below is the recipe for the flatbread, which comes from Ana Sortun's book, Spice. You can make the dough the night before and bake it so that it's fresh the next day.

The bread is rich with olive oil and covered with a heavy dusting of za'atar, a wild Middle Eastern mountain herb similar to thyme or oregano. If you can't find za'atar, you can imitate it by combining thyme, oregano, and marjoram. In New York, I found it at Kalustyan's, an amazing place where you can find all kinds of unusual spices.

Photo courtesy of

Sunday, February 20, 2011

winter pesto

This variation on pesto is great for the winter months. It incorporates spinach, which can be found in season this time of year and which you can grow in your kitchen window without too much trouble. The spinach gives this pesto a slightly heartier dimension that's perfect for the cold season, but the flavor of the basil (which I find preferable to that of spinach) still prevails. I use this pesto the same way you would the standard basil variety - over pasta, tomatoes, roasted vegetables, or spread on sandwiches. Lately I've been enjoying it drizzled over pizza for a little added flair.

2 cloves garlic (3 for serious garlic lovers)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
juice from 1/4 lemon
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
2 cups packed basil
1 cup packed spinach
lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Allow the pesto to sit for about ten minutes before serving in order to let the flavors blend.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

love potion

This rosé cocktail combines the savory and potent aphrodisiac qualities of coriander with the fruity flavor of peach schnapps and orange zest, creating an intoxicating Valentine's Day aperitif. Coriander, the spicy seed of the cilantro plant, was traditionally used as to create love potions during the Middle Ages, when it would be combined with wine, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves to make the legendary "Hipocras," a drink served at weddings to promote fertility. It is also mentioned as a magical sterility cure in one of the tales of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights.

The inspiration for this recipe comes from Ana Sortun's wonderful book, Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean, in which she recommends combining rosé, sugar, coriander, orange zest, and eau de vie. Since eau de vie can be hard to find, especially in small quantities, I've substituted peach schnapps here.


1 glass rosé wine
1 T sugar or agave
1/4 T peach schnapps
1/2 t coriander
1/2 t orange zest


Combine all ingredients, pour into a wine glass, and imbibe! (This recipe serves one, so double the recipe if you plan to entertain a date this Valentine's Day...)

Monday, February 7, 2011

chickpea patty rollup

The Greek Corner in Cambridge, Massachusetts serves one of the most luscious sandwiches I've ever had the pleasure of biting into. The food at the Greek Corner is incredible all around, but I find it very hard to go there and not order the lamb sandwich, a mouthwatering rollup that combines roast lamb, rich tzatziki, tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers.

There was a time in my life when I worked just next to this restaurant and, as a result, had the excuse and privilege of eating this sandwich almost every day. I never tired of it, and it's one of the many things in Cambridge I had a hard time parting with when I moved to New York.

The recipe below was born out of a feeling of nostalgia for the Greek Corner's lamb sandwich. While there's no lamb in this recipe, I've tried to honor the general gist of the sandwich by preserving the combination of tzatziki, fresh vegetables, and grilled flatbread. In lieu of lamb, I've used spinach and chickpea patties flavored with garlic, cumin, and lemon. The resulting taste is not unlike hummus, and the texture of the patties adds a meaty dimension to the dish.