Thursday, December 4, 2014

sesame seared tuna

sesame encrusted tuna / wasabi / macha sea salt / okinawa miso / yuzuponzu

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

yuzu shiso cocktail

This cocktail from En Japanese Brasserie incorporates shiso leaf, yuzu and grapefruit juice, and shochu. The ingredients are exotic and can be hard to track down, but they are all well worth the hunt.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

garlic scapes & artichoke pesto

We also received garlic scapes this week. A garlic scape is the long, curly, whimsical looking seed-head and stalk that grow from garlic bulbs. If you've ever left garlic around your kitchen for too long, you've seen it emerge. In the spring, farmers usually cut the scapes off in order to redirect the energy and growth back into the bulb, making it plump. Sometimes farmers allow the scapes to grow out and form garlic bulbils, which can ultimately be planted to create new bulbs, but this process takes two to three years years.

The scapes are most tender just as they begin to curl and should be harvested at this time. If the shoots are straight, they will be tough. Scapes can be cooked and eaten just as garlic can. They have a milder taste than their bulbous relatives that's reminiscent of chive. When cooked, their texture is similar to that of young asparagus.
I decided to make an artichoke pesto using our scapes (and a single garlic clove for good measure). The result was incredibly tasty, and the green shoots added a little color and textural variation to the pesto that was delightful!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

wasabi soba salad

Mirabella's Pantry is back! I finally joined a CSA here in NYC and just received our first delivery from Stoneledge Farm. I've decided to spend the summer finding and creating recipes that showcase each week's ingredients.

This week we received mizuna, a peppery spring green with a mild mustard flavor that's high in folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamins A and C, and antioxidants. The Japanese traditionally serve it pickled (which I've never tried), but it also tastes terrific raw or stir-fried.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

lemon halibut

This aromatic fish can be prepared in the oven or grilled outside over a barbecue. I especially like the taste of the lemons after they're cooked. They remind me a little of Moroccan preserved lemons, and you can easily eat them rind and all.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

strawberry salad with goat-cheese toasts

To commemorate the summer, a simple salad from the farmers market made from ephemeral strawberries, fresh goat cheese, and gorgeous salad greens...

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Bún, a traditional Vietnamese vermicelli bowl with vegetables and fresh herbs, is one of my all-time favorite meals. Along with being unbelievably healthful and satisfying, it's also pretty easy to make at home. The key is the salty and totally transformative nuoc cham, a Vietnamese condiment made primarily of fish sauce.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

roasted fruit salad with gorgonzola and maple balsamic dressing

This is actually a fall salad, but oh well. I've been really temporally disoriented lately. It combines roasted fruit with spinach and maple balsamic dressing. I am a huge fan of roasted fruit and feel like it's something that should be incorporated into recipes more frequently. Some walnuts or pecans would also be a nice addition to this salad. There's some prosciutto in the photo above, but this is entirely optional and I added it mostly because I had some leftover from making fig and prosciutto pizza.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

chai ice cream

The process used to make this ice cream is similar to that of arabic coffee ice cream. In both cases, the concept is to infuse milk with spices and turning the milk into ice cream. You begin by infusing milk with spices by heating them together over the stove, and finish by cooling the milk and then freezing it in your ice cream maker. If you don't have all the spices, feel free to leave a few out. It will still taste good.

Monday, March 7, 2011

olive bread, warm ricotta and fleur de sel

The key to this recipe is definitely the warm, homemade ricotta, a fresh, no-rennet cheese that is surprisingly easy to make at home. I've never warmed to store-bought ricotta and have always considered it a kind of lackluster, sub-par cheese that I avoided unless I needed it in a lasagna, but my recent introduction to fresh ricotta completely changed my way of thinking about it.

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.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

arabic coffee ice cream

This ice-cream recipe is based on the traditional Middle-Eastern drink that combines ground coffee beans with whole cardamom pods. Cardamom is one of my all-time favorite spices. It's related to ginger, but instead of tasting spicy or bitter it has a smooth, subtle flavor and an overwhelming fragrance that carries you away to another time and place. Together with coffee and sugar, it creates a blissful bittersweet balance.

Certain Arabic coffee recipes incorporate other spices, including ginger, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, and saffron, so feel free to experiment with the recipe below by adding whatever spices you fancy.

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
11/4 cup coffee beans
20 to 25 whole cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

You will also need:
cheesecloth (to strain)
ice cream maker

Place coffee beans, whole coriander pods, and any other spices you wish to include in a plastic bag. Seal the bag and place on a firm surface. Beat the contents of the bag into submission using a wooden spoon or other solid, forceful device. This is not only an effective method of quickly breaking the ingredients down into tiny pieces - it's also a wonderful way to relieve any aggression you might be experiencing.

Next, we want to infuse the milk with the coffee and spices. To do this, combine all ingredients in a medium pot over high heat. The beans and cardamom will create an intricate mosaic in the milk. Bring the milk to a simmer and then immediately remove the pot from heat.

Let the pot sit, covered, for an hour. During this time, the milk will absorb the aroma and flavor of the coffee and spices.

After an hour, carefully strain the mixture through cheesecloth into a medium-sized bowl, separating the cardamom and coffee bits from the now-infused milk.

Cover the bowl with saran wrap and refrigerate the mixture for 2 hours.

Freeze according to your ice cream maker's directions and serve to your sure-to-be grateful guests. My sister said the final taste reminded her of a macaron from Paris' exquisite sweet shop Ladurée, so prepare to be delighted!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

mint and avocado smoothie

While experimenting with green smoothie recipes, I read that as long as you maintain a proportion of 60 percent fruit to 40 percent vegetables, the fruity flavors will conceal those of the vegetables. Since I often forget to incorporate a healthy dose of greens in my daily diet, I've started adding a handful of greens to all my smoothies. I've found that the 60-to-40 proportion holds true for the most part, especially if you are using more neutral greens like spinach (more potent greens like alfalfa and broccoli sprouts have proved a little trickier).

This recipe combines the detoxifying properties of spinach, avocado, and apple in a beautiful, electrifyingly green smoothie. My approach was to mask the bitterness of the spinach behind the acidity of lemon juice, the richness of avocado, and the freshness of mint, turning it into a smooth, restorative, and healthful shake.

1 cup spinach
1 apple, cored and chopped
1/2 cup of frozen mango
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 an avocado
a handful of mint leaves
1 tsp flax (optional)
1/4 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a blender. If necessary, turn off the blender occasionally and use a spoon to push down the ingredients into the bottom of the blender. If you are having trouble getting a smooth consistency, feel free to add a splash of water or your favorite juice.

(serves 2)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

harissa paste

I started eating large quantities of harissa around the time I first tried Heidi Swanson's recipe for harissa spaghettini, a simple but oh-so-delicious spicy pasta dish with kale and olives that has since become a weekly staple in my diet. As a result, I keep bulk amounts of harissa spice mix in the cupboards at all times so that I'm always prepared for an impromptu feast. Initially however, I ran into the problem of finding harissa paste, so I started making my own simple version out of spices, a little olive oil, lemon, and garlic.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

spaghetti al nìvuro di sìccia / spaghetti with squid ink sauce

The first time I had the pleasure of eating squid ink sauce was at 40 Ladroni, a sensationally delicious restaurant tucked away in the San Marco district of Venice. I fell so madly in love with this mysterious black dish that a friend of mine proposed marriage on my behalf to our unsuspecting waiter and benevolent bearer of squid ink. The amiable Venetian decided to play along, announcing the engagement to the restaurant of friendly Italians enjoying their Sunday lunch. Prenuptial toasts and complementary shots of limoncello ensued.

Ever since this wonderful day combined marital bliss with the even more vital promise of eternal squid ink sauce and limoncello, I have craved this dish. After lucklessly scouring a host of American cities in hopes of finding a restaurant or market that serves it, I decided to try my hand at it myself. To my delight, I discovered that it’s not as difficult or expensive as it looks, as long as you can get your hands on some of that mythical squid ink (which also makes a fetching moustache).

Squid ink can be hard to find, so whenever I see it I buy as much as I can afford and store it in my freezer. Don't worry if you're not planning on using it anytime soon - squid ink has quite the shelf life. Concerned about the expiration status of some squid ink I bought last summer in Boston's North End, I did some research and came across an article that showed how squid ink can last over 155 million years!

If you're having trouble locating squid ink, I've found that sometimes you can call a local fishery a day in advance. They're often happy to get some fresh squid ink especially for you when the fishermen come the next day.

1 lb good spaghetti
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
a dash of red pepper flakes
1/2 lb squid tubes, cleaned (and tentacles if desired)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup white wine
a handful of parsley
1 to 2 teaspoons squid ink
salt (to taste)

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes and sauté for about 3 minutes or until the onions begin to become translucent.

In the meantime, slice the squid horizontally into rings.

Once the onions and garlic begin to smell fragrant, add the squid and sauté for 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes, wine, and a handful of parsley, reserving a generous portion of the parsley for the garnish.

Simmer on medium to medium-high heat for 15 to 25 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken.

While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta according to the manufacturer's instructions. Do not overcook the pasta - you want it to be al dente.

Once the sauce has thickened, add the squid ink. Remember, a little goes a long way! Add the ink slowly, watching the colors change, and tasting if you like. When you have a sauce that is as black as night, you know it's time to stop!

Simmer the black sauce for about a minute and then add the drained pasta. Garnish with the leftover parsley, and serve.

(serves 4 and a kitten)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

raspberry white hot chocolate

So here's a spin on homemade hot chocolate for those hibernal days when you don't want to leave the house and you just want to curl up next to the fire with a soporific mug of cocoa. I'm more of a dark chocolate person most of the time, but this white chocolate concoction was so comforting tasting that I think I may have been converted. The raspberries fill you with a nostalgia for summer while the white chocolate undertones carry you away into a dreamy winter wonderland.

1 cup white chocolate, chopped
4 cups whole milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
4 Tbsp raspberry syrup (recipe below)

Over medium heat, warm the milk and the chocolate, stirring so as not to burn the chocolate.

When the milk is on the verge of simmering, remove from heat and add the vanilla.

Pour the hot chocolate evenly into 4 mugs and drizzle each with a tablespoon of raspberry syrup.

(makes 4 cups)

raspberry syrup

1/2 cup raspberries (frozen or fresh)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Simmer ingredients over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring and pressing the berries against the pan. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth into a glass, pressing the liquid through the cheesecloth with the back side of a spoon. The thick raspberry mixture that will be leftover from this process can be served the next morning as fresh jam.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

spicy black bean burger with lemon aioli

I was a little skeptical before making these black bean burgers, because it can be difficult to make a veggie patty that coheres well and keeps its shape through the frying process. Fortunately this combination of mushrooms and black beans worked out wonderfully.

I used a hot-red-pepper-based blend of North African spices called harissa to give this burger a unique kick that accentuates the deep flavor of the black beans and the meaty taste of the mushrooms. The lemon aioli cuts the spice nicely and adds a refreshing finish.

You can make this recipe vegan by simply leaving out the egg, parmesan, and aioli. The consistency of the patty will be a little different, but it will still taste excellent.

spicy black bean burgers

For the patties
1 Tbsp olive oil (plus more for frying)
1 shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
2 cups mushrooms, diced
1 can black beans
1 egg
 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon harissa spice blend
1 Tbsp wheat germ (optional)
1 Tbsp flax meal (optional)
¼ cup bread crumbs
salt (to taste)

For the toppings
tomato, sliced
red onion
cheddar cheese
lemon aioli (see recipe below)

6 hamburger buns

Sauté the garlic and shallot in olive oil over medium heat until translucent (about 3 minutes). Add the carrot and mushrooms and continue cooking until the mushrooms are soft.

In the meantime, start mashing the black beans with a fork. When the mushrooms are cooked, add them to the black bean mash.

In a separate bowl, beat 1 egg. Add harissa, wheat germ, flax, parmesan, and bread crumbs to the egg.

Combine the egg mixture with the bean and mushroom mash.

Heat olive oil on medium high heat in a fry pan. Spoon some of the patty mixture into the hot oil. I used a spatula to form the mixture into nice round patties by pressing down on the tops and sides of the burgers. This process is fun and addicting. Once you have a nice shape, flip the patties as you would any burger and repeat the shaping process on the other side.

Once the patties are cooked, assemble the burgers however you like. I recommend toasting the buns lightly and topping them the patties with cheddar cheese, lemon aioli, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and avocado.

lemon aioli

2 egg yolks, room temperature
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl. Add the garlic and lemon juice. Very slowly, drizzle the olive oil into the bowl while constantly whisking. This process needs to be very slow in order for the combination of egg and oil to result in a nice, thick sauce, so exercise patience as you add the oil! Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

marinated green olives

If you plan to spend this New Year's Eve holed up in a cozy apartment, tucked away from the inclement weather with your cat or with a few select loved ones, this small plate will liven up your environs. These marinated olives make a great tapas to serve along with some red wine and rustic bread. The lemon slices add a festive and colorful accent to the dish that makes the olives look even more enticing.

1 cup pitted green olives, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, thinly sliced and then quartered
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp dried oregano

Combine the oil, garlic, and oregano in a small bowl. Add the lemon slices, muddling some of the juices in the oil as you do so. Add the olives and mix. Allow the olives to marinate for a few hours before serving, mixing them in the juices every so often.

Monday, December 27, 2010

emily's christmas tart

Mirabella's Auntie Emily made this stunning fruit tart for Christmas and I thought it was so beautiful I had to post her recipe here. I'm sure it was delicious, too, by the sound of the ingredients, and wish I could have shared it with her!

This tart just looks so fresh, sweet, and full of dynamic, contrasting flavors. The filling is made of almonds, and the exotic melange of fruits she used includes kiwis, berries, and apples. I love the way the raspberry sauce glistens in the light, intensifying the dazzling array of colors produced by the fruits and berries. It reminds me of some enchanted dish from a fairy tale.

Auntie Emily studying her medicine books with Princess Mirabella
For the crust:
6 T butter
1 T oil
3 T water
pinch of salt
1 to 1.5 c flour
4 T sugar

For the filling:
1 c ground almonds
1/2 c sugar
1-2 thinly sliced granny smith apples
1 c mixed berries
2 thinly sliced kiwis
2 T butter
2 T lemon juice
3 T raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 400. Heat butter, oil, salt, and water in a pan until the butter melts. Set aside to cool. Add 1 cup of the flour and all the sugar to the butter mixture, mix in and then add more flour slowly until the dough forms a ball that doesn't stick to the pan.

Press dough into a 9-inch pie pan. Put in the oven for 5-8 min until crust is lightly brown. Remove and let cool.

Combine the ground almonds and 1/4 c sugar and place into bottom of tart crust. Arrange the fruit on top. Sprinkle with another 1/4 c sugar and 1 T lemon juice to moisten and keep the fruit fresh.

Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.

Combine jam and 1 T lemon juice in a small pan and heat. Brush over the top of the baked tart. Let it cool before cutting, and enjoy!

Friday, December 24, 2010

coconut-almond treasures

I've always been crazy about the combination of coconut and almonds. Almond Joy candy bars and marzipan dipped in chocolate were the inspirations for this homemade candy.

1 cup almonds
2 tbl agave
1/4 cup coconut, shredded
2 cups chocolate chips (I used 60% dark, but feel free to use whatever you prefer)

You will also need:
12 cupcake liners
cupcake pan
double boiler

Place 12 cupcake liners in a cupcake pan. Heat 1 cup of chocolate in a double boiler until melted. Spoon a layer of chocolate into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Refrigerate the cupcake tray until chocolate hardens, about 45 minutes.

In the meantime, blend the almonds until they have the consistency of almond meal (about five seconds). Pour into a mixing bowl. Add the agave and mix to form a paste. If the consistency is too dry, add a tablespoon or so of water. Finally, add the shredded coconuts and mix.

When the chocolate is hard, remove the cupcake tray from the refrigerator and top each piece of chocolate with the almond-coconut mixture, as shown below. Spread the mixture evenly across the chocolate using a spoon.

Heat the remaining chocolate in a double boiler. Once the chocolate has melted, spread it in a thin layer over the almond paste.

Return the cupcake tray to the refrigerator until the chocolate hardens. When the candies are ready, carefully remove the cupcake liners and store the chocolates in the fridge.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

krupnik / polish honey vodka

As far as I can tell there's really no reason not to infuse vodka. Raspberries, lemons, cherries - any of these fruits make a magical vodka infusion, but I think among all the varieties of flavored vodka, krupnik, or honey vodka, is my favorite.

Krupnik is served hot as a traditional Christmas cordial in Poland, but it also makes a refreshing summer drink served cold or over ice. It's an excellent way to turn a mediocre bottle of vodka into a smooth, celebratory drink. I usually buy an inexpensive bottle like Svedka. There's no need to splurge here - the vodka will taste great once it mingles with the honey and spices.

I think Princess Mirabella wants to be a Svedka model because she kept striking poses around the bottle.

2 cups honey
2 cups water
6 cinnamon sticks
10 cloves
1/4 t ground nutmeg
peel of 1 orange
1 t vanilla
5 cups of vodka
cheesecloth (optional)

Simmer all ingredients except vodka in a covered pot for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 30 minutes. Return to heat, bring to a boil, and add vodka. Remove from heat immediately after vodka has been added.

Cool the mixture. Once it is room temperature, you may strain it through the cheesecloth. (This step is only necessary if you want the vodka to be clear and uniform. It's perfectly fine to serve the vodka with the spices and orange peel still in it.)

To serve hot:
Reheat the strained liquid, ladle into mugs.

To serve cold or over ice:
Once the vodka has cooled, store it in the freezer. I keep mine in a big mason jar. The vodka tastes best if it's been stored in the freezer for a couple of weeks so that the flavors have time to really blend.

Na zdrovie! Wszystkiego najlepszego w nowym roky!

Monday, December 20, 2010

rigatoni with goat cheese, mint, and peas

A friend of mine recently started a goat farm in the Connecticut countryside, and after a recent visit I came back to New York with more raw goat cheese than I knew what to do with.

In an effort to consume it all I've been adding it to everything I eat and have come up with some exciting results. The following recipe combines the mild, tangy flavor of goat cheese with the bright flavor of mint. This is a great way to use up extra mint if you have some lying around.

I like to call this "inside-out ravioli," because the taste of the sauce reminds me of a ravioli stuffing. The peas hide in and peek out of the rigatoni and the addition of the mint results in a beautiful dish. The goat cheese makes the sauce taste rich, but because I used low-fat milk the sauce feels light and fresh.

4 cups of pasta

For the sauce
2 cloves garlic 
1 tbl butter or olive oil
1/2 cup milk (use whole milk or cream if you want a thicker sauce)
2 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup peas
1/2 bunch of fresh mint
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper

shredded parmesan cheese (to garnish)

Cook the pasta according to the directions. In the mean time, mince the garlic and the mint.

When the pasta is almost ready, sauté the garlic over medium heat in a sauce pan with oil or butter for about three minutes.

Add the milk and the goat cheese, mashing the goat cheese against the pan. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how thick you want the sauce. (The sauce will not thicken very much if you use low-fat milk, so if you want a thicker, richer sauce, go for whole milk or cream.)

When the pasta is ready, strain into a colander and add to the sauce, along with the frozen peas. Stir until the pasta absorbs the sauce. Remove the mixture from the saucepan and add the mint.

Divide evenly into two bowls, garnishing each portion with a generous serving of parmesan cheese, and serve.

(serves 2)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

açaí na tigela / açaí bowl

I first had açaí na tigela at a small Brazilian cafe in Everett, Massachusetts. It was a delightful experience. I'd had açaí juice before, but I wasn't expecting its frozen, blended form to be so incredibly tasty. The crunch of the granola adds a surprisingly complementary texture to the refreshingly icy-but-smooth consistency of the fruit. The result is something an exotic version of a yogurt parfait. Serve for breakfast or as a dessert.

4 packs of frozen açaí pulp
1 frozen banana
a handful of frozen strawberries (optional)
a splash of orange juice (or any tropical juice)

For the topping
chocolate coconut almond granola (or whatever kind you like)
1 banana, sliced
a few strawberries, sliced (optional)

Cut each açaí pack in half. Blend the pulp with the frozen bananas, strawberries, and juice until the mixture is smooth.

Divide the mixture evenly into 2 bowls and top each serving with granola, half of a sliced banana, a generous drizzle of honey, and fresh strawberries if desired.

(serves 2)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

fig & prosciutto pizza

This recipe was inspired by Figs' signature pizza. I love this combination of sweet figs and salty prosciutto. As you can see from the absorbed look on my dad's face, it's completely delicious:

The recipe is simple. You can adjust proportions according to your taste.

whole wheat lavash
fig spread
prosciutto (thinly sliced)
balsamic vinegar

Spread the fig spread over the lavash and crumble the gorgonzola over it. Toast in the oven or toaster until the cheese has melted. Set on a serving plate and place a layer of prosciutto over the top. Garnish with long slices of scallions and drizzle with a little balsamic.

sesame ice cream

I first had sesame ice cream at Matsuri in Paris, a magical dream-come-true restaurant where sushi revolves around a conveyer belt before your very eyes. When I started searching for recipes, I mostly came across French- or custard-style approaches, which involve slowly heating raw eggs in order to create a thick custard base. I tried a few of these recipes with disastrous results. The eggs cooked too fast and I just couldn't get the consistency right. The actual frozen end product actually tasted good once you got over the frozen-then-blended omelette texture, but I prefer this simple Philadelphia-style no-egg recipe that I came up with.

1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cream
1 cup whole milk

Toast the sesame seeds in a fry pan. Make sure you don't burn them - when they start to smell aromatic you know they are ready.

Blend the toasted sesame seeds with the sugar, cream, and milk until smooth. Refrigerate for an hour and then freeze according to your ice cream maker's directions. Sprinkle with sesame seeds when serving.

miso-glazed eggplant

This dish was my attempt at recreating Nobu's "eggplant with miso." Far from what Nobu's pricey menu would have you believe, this sweet, salty miso sauce is actually easy and inexpensive to make and tastes delicious spread over eggplant, pan-fried tofu, and honestly anything you desire. I usually serve this dish with soba noodles, but it could also be served alongside rice, tofu, and broccoli, or as a side to a main dish.

1 large eggplant
2 tbl sesame oil

For the sauce
4 oz mirin (or rice vinegar)
4 oz sake
4 tbl miso
3 tbl sugar

For the garnish
sesame seeds

Bring 4 oz of miso mirin to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and add the miso, stirring until blended. Return to a boil. Add sugar and simmer until the sauce caramelizes. Remove from heat.

While the sauce cools, slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch cubes. Heat oil in a skillet and add eggplant. Sprinkle with salt and stir-fry until soft. Add more oil (or soy sauce) as needed.

Fold the sauce into the eggplant. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions and serve.