Lemony Fettucine 2.0

Earlier in the week, I had a lot of fresh asparagus and some previously served salmon along with fresh dill.  I went to the farmers market to buy fresh spinach fettucini, and made my Spring pasta, adding in leftover chunks of salmon and fresh dill.  Even better than the original below (which I originally posted way back in 2013). My-oh-my!


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Fabulous Fettuccine

This spring, I experienced what it is like (again) to parent a four year old – or as my grandson would say, a “4 and a third year old.”

My husband and I happened to be in Iowa for the Passover holiday, and offered to bring our oldest grandson home to Seattle for almost two weeks. It was an uber-busy time for our daughter – moving and setting up her new office, single parenting for the entire time while her husband was out of town interviewing for the next phase of life, on and on. When we offered to fly back with Zay, she initially refused but shortly warmed to the idea. Being at home for almost two weeks with only her 21-month old turned out to be pretty appealing. Zay was pretty excited too. Especially when he learned that he’d have his very own room for two weeks – plus lots of friends and family to visit and daily outings with grandma and grandpa.

Zay at Ballard Farmer’s Market

So what was it like? Well, I don’t remember being as tired in my thirties as I am in my sixties. I feel I am more patient now and don’t sweat the small stuff – like waking up too early and going to bed too late. And boy, was it fun to see the world through the eyes of a four-year-old.

All in all, it was delightful for Zay, but even more so for us. The only drawback – and it was, unfortunately, a nightmare – ended up being the airlines and the flights we chose. Snow in April? Yes. Canceled flights? Yes. Overnights in Denver? Yes. Everything that could have gone wrong with our airline tickets went wrong.

It was still worth it. Our daughter had a more relaxing time with her younger son and he had much more time to be the center of attention. And I’ve decided that I want to make this a tradition for each grandchild – to be here by themselves in Seattle with their grandparents for a good stretch of time.

Zay ended up being really flexible and understanding. I loved cooking for him, taking him to farmers markets, and explaining the sites and sounds of Seattle. Since asparagus turned up everywhere, we concocted this dish following a trip to the Pike Street Market where we purchased fresh fettuccine noodles. My husband deemed it the best pasta I had ever made! If you knew him, you’d realize this is a huge compliment. And Zay didn’t leave one noodle in his dish!

Simple Ingredients

If you live near an Italian market that has sheets of egg noodles, this is a slam dunk. I suppose it would be good with dried noodles as well, but there is really no contest.

Lemon Fettuccine with Asparagus

Serves 6


  • 8 ounces fresh egg pasta – cut for fettuccine
  • 2 Tbsp salted butter
  • ¼ cup of fresh basil, julienned
  • 3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 ½ Tbsp grated lemon rind (I did mine on the microplane grater)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 lb fresh asparagus

Snap off the ends opposite the tips of the asparagus. Unless the stalks are the pencil thin, I peel the stems with a veggie peeler (if thin, you can omit peeling), put in large deep sauté pan with an inch of water. (My sauté pan is 11 inches in diameter.) Bring to a boil, and lower to medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the asparagus is bright green and barely tender when pierced with a fork. Remove the stalks of asparagus and put into ice water and let sit for 5 minutes. This stops the cooking and quickly cools the vegetable. After the asparagus is cooled and dried, cut it into 1-inch pieces.

In a large nonstick soup pot, bring water to a boil. Add two teaspoons of salt.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the basil and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon rind, and continue to cook 2 more minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the cream. Slowly cook the cream until a thick sauce forms. Stir in the pepper and the grated Parmesan and set aside.

When the pot of water comes to a boil, drop in the fresh pasta and cook without covering until it is al dente. The timing will be determined by whether you use fresh or dried pasta. Since mine was fresh this only took about 3 minutes.

Drain the pasta noodles into a colander then add the sauce and pasta to your pasta water pot. (Note: this is why you want it nonstick. If it is a regular stainless steel pan, clean up is a lot more involved.) Stir until the pasta is thoroughly coated. Add in blanched asparagus and stir well.

Serve with extra grated cheese and a simple green salad.

This was so lemony and good that I’ll make it a couple more times while asparagus is in season. And keep in mind that the fresh egg noodles freeze beautifully if you buy extra!

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Addictive Crispy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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I Just Couldn’t Help Myself!

OK people. In the past, I posted a recipe for salted chocolate chunk cookies that are firm on the edges with a soft interior.  They are the bomb.

But these?  These are, as my husband says, “ the best cookies I’ve had in 69 ½ years.”  And I wholeheartedly agree, even though I am a year younger and a much more sophisticated cookie taster.

These are a cross between toffee, shortbread, and chocolate chippers.  They are really crispy through and through, not too sweet (I even decreased the sugar suggested in the original recipe) and they have a deep, interesting, nutty flavor.  Again, I think this is in part due to the Lyle’s golden syrup I subbed for the original recipe’s light corn syrup. Lyle’s is my favorite “golden” syrup and I love the flavor when added to batters and doughs.  (The original recipe came from Amanda Hesser of the New York Times.)

Addictive Crispy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes ~32 cookies



  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 ¾ sticks) salted butter, melted
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Lyle’s golden syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 ½ cups chopped bittersweet chocolate (pea-size pieces and shavings)I started with Ghirardelli bittersweet chunks and ran a knife through them until they were smaller
  • 2 cups chopped toasted pecans (optional) – chopped the same size as the chocolate

Preheat the oven to 300 convection degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the butter, sugars and corn syrup for about three minutes. Stir in the vanilla, then the milk. Add the flour mixture all at once and blend just until a dough forms. Fold in the chocolate and walnuts. Chill the dough for at least an hour.

Roll 1 ½ tablespoon lumps of dough into balls, then place on the baking sheet and flatten to 1/4 inch-thick disks spaced two inches apart. Chill the dough between batches. Bake until the edges are dark golden brown, 17 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet, then transfer to a baking rack.

I do one cookie sheet, mid-oven at a time.


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Cast Iron Chicken & Orzo

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Chicken & Orzo – So Simple!

This spring, I have been obsessed with both my pressure cookers (I own two) and my cast iron skillet.  I have come to realize that I truly could live forever with just these pots and pans and be able to make delicious food with little fuss or bother.

I have also been a recent convert to chicken thighs.  I used to love white meat, bone-in chicken or turkey breast meat, yet recently I have settled on dark meat for it’s higher fat content (read flavor) – plus it gives me a little more wiggle room while cooking.  I just find it tastier and more adaptable to the dishes I like to make.

Enter this recipe I spotted for a “one pot chicken thighs with orzo” dish on Epicurious.  I had chicken thighs with bone in and skin on in the freezer AND I had both a fennel bulb and a large leek from the farmers market so it seemed to be calling my name.  I did not have white wine or the usual vermouth that I keep in the fridge for times like this, but I did have rum. Why not? It’s a little sweet but I didn’t feel like making a special trip to the grocery store.  

Cast Iron Chicken Thighs with Orzo* 



Serves 4-6

  • 6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 pounds total), patted dry
  • ½ tsp sea salt (fine)
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter or oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped, (reserve and chop the fronds to sprinkle on top of the finished dish)
  • 1 leek, white and pale green parts only, chopped
  • 8 ounces uncooked orzo pasta
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine or vermouth (or rum!)
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth (I cheated and used Better Than Bouillion)
  • Juice of one lime
  • Grated lime zest from a whole lime
  • 1 Tbsp butter if desired after the chicken is cooked

Preheat oven to 400°.

Press salt and pepper onto the skin side of the chicken thighs.

Heat 1 Tbsp butter (or olive oil if you prefer in a preheated (medium-high) cast iron skillet. Nestle chicken, skin side down, in skillet in a single layer with no gaps. Cook until the meat is opaque around the edges and skin is deep golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Turn chicken skin side up and transfer the cast iron skillet to the preheated oven; bake, uncovered, until chicken is cooked through, (~15  minutes). Transfer chicken to a plate.

Set the same skillet over medium heat; combine chopped fennel bulb and sliced leek in skillet and sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally until the leek is looking golden around the edges, about 5 minutes. Be careful of the very hot panhandle!

Add orzo and cook until pasta is darkened (it will take on a brown hue) to a nice nutty brown in spots and toasty smelling, about 3 minutes. Pour in wine (or rum!) and cook, stirring, until liquid is evaporated, about 1 minute. Add broth ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting broth absorb before adding more until orzo is tender and broth is mostly absorbed but the pan is not dry, 10–15 minutes. You might not need all the broth.

Remove skillet from heat, taste and add more salt and pepper to your liking; mix in lemon juice and remaining 1 Tbsp. butter, then chopped fennel fronds. Pile chicken on top and finish with lemon zest. I pick something colorful to garnish this dish since it is pretty brown!

*Recipe adapted from Epicurious

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Rhubarb Custard Dessert Reminder

I really should have titled this “Rhubarb Crack”.  I mean seriously people – it is addictingly delicious. I can’t believe it’s been THREE YEARS since I posted it. I know I’ve dreamt of it countless times and as soon as I spotted bright pink stalks of rhubarb at the farmer’s market earlier this month – I knew exactly what I was making. Try it. You won’t be sorry!


Rhubarb Custard Dessert

Click here to view recipe.

Rhubarb Custard Dessert ... or "Rhubarb Crack" as it's lovingly known in our family

Rhubarb Custard Dessert … or “Rhubarb Crack” as it’s lovingly known in our family

I love living in my condominium … no huge yard to tend to but just the right amount of room in my planter boxes for herbs and tomatoes.  That said … every spring when I pass by yards featuring huge, wild patches of rhubarb – it gives me pause. And I have to admit – I get a little jealous.  When my daughter and her family lived in Iowa, her office had a massive clump of wild rhubarb growing outside that we would harvest for days on end, creating countless desserts and sauces and salsas.  Those were the days…

From all this rhubarb madness, I became most enamored of today’s recipe – it’s my all time rhubarb dessert prizewinner. I saved a typed copy of this recipe a while ago and cannot for the life of me remember the origin. But I’ve made it several times since, tweaking it here and there (surprise, surprise).  I do know that it originated back in the day before anyone worried about consuming too many eggs and too much butter and such.

Rhubarb Custard Dessert

Serves 10-12



Crust Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (not plain whole wheat, but whole wheat pastry flour.  It makes a difference)
  • 2/3 cup cold salted butter, cut into ½  inch pieces
  • 1 egg
Rhubarb Filling Ingredients
  • 8 cups rhubarb, cut into 1 inch slices
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
Topping Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup cold salted butter, sliced into 1/2 inch bits
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar  (add a bit more if you like pretty sweet desserts – I do not and this amount is perfect for my tastebuds)

Use an 11-inch springform pan or a 9 x 12 cake pan.  I like the looks of pieces cut from the springform pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 with a rack in the middle of the oven.  Grease and flour the bottom and sides of the springform pan. I line the bottom with a round piece of parchment paper to fit, then re-grease and flour the paper.

In a food processor pulse together the two cups flour, and ⅔ cup butter until it looks like sand. Stir in the egg.  Dump all of this into the bottom of your pan and firmly press it on the bottom (and up the sides if you are using the springform.  It doesn’t have to be perfect!)

Put the rhubarb on top of the crust.  It will be pretty full, which is OK since the rhubarb cooks down.

Mix together the remaining six eggs and two cups sugar and pour over the rhubarb.

Pulse the topping ingredients (flour, butter and sugar) in the food processor until crumbly and sprinkle over the rhubarb and custard layer.

Bake mid oven for 70-80 minutes or until topping is browned.  Let it cool completely on the counter then put in the fridge and let it get cold before removing the ring of the springform pan.

This is wonderful if you sneak a nibble right out of the oven, or when barely warm or even cold.  I store this in the refrigerator and it stays nice for a week.  I eat it for breakfast straight up, but if using it as a dessert I always serve this with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream or even slightly sweetened whipped cream.

Now go harvest that rhubarb!!

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Spinach Salad in Seattle

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Sensational Spinach Salad

To me, cooking is like fashion.  Things come and go. What is hot and what is not often depends on the season. Heavier stews and hearty soups in winter and light salads or chilled vegetable dishes in the heat of summer.  Ingredients also come in and out of favor. Pomegranate molasses, chilies in adobo, edamame beans, and heirloom tomatoes aren’t ingredients you will find in older cookbooks. I remember that in my early twenties “salad greens” translated to either romaine or iceberg lettuce; wild greens and frisee weren’t even on my radar!  I expect that we will continue to see ongoing trends. Who knows what will be hot this year … Instapot beans? Turmeric in everything?

ANYWAY, I was invited to a dinner a few nights ago with other Baby Boomers.  Everyone was asked to contribute a dish and I volunteered to bring a salad for ten. I knew that a couple of those present were not “adventurous” in their tastes and some didn’t eat cheese. I began to look through my salad files on my computer, which translates into over 400 salad recipes – and this doesn’t even include my salad dressing recipes.  (One of the items on my “to do list” is to further divide these into main dish salads, lettuce-based salads, grainy salads and vegetable salads).

As I perused my list of salads, I noticed a spinach curry salad that was an OLD recipe.  I believe the last time I made it for company was about 30 years ago, no kidding. It sort of fit the bill for the weather as I love spinach salad right before spring and it was seasonal because apples are one of the only types of fruit you can buy at farmers markets in Seattle during the late winter/early spring (before rhubarb makes an appearance).  No other ingredients were too exotic or difficult to find – in fact, I had every other item in my pantry or refrigerator. I also have a beautiful large porcelain salad bowl and no matter what goes in there, it always looks impressive.

My self-made rule of thumb, when invited to a potluck, is to have everything pre-chopped and mixed so that I don’t have to use a lot of dishes or hunt for measuring spoons.  I brought the prepared spinach (organic baby spinach that I rewashed and de-stemmed) and had individual foil packs with the sliced apples coated with a little lemon juice (so they wouldn’t turn brown), peanuts, raisins, toasted sesame seeds and sliced onions.  I tossed all of this with the spinach right before serving and it was a wonderful first course that was followed by salmon and orzo-vegetable salad.

PS: I sent this recipe to my children and Jake wrote back and remarked: “I surprisingly can’t imagine what the dish tastes like but it sounds good.”   To elaborate on his remark, the salad contains an assertive curry flavor that combines with the sweetness of apples and raisins and is nicely tempered by the onions and crunchy peanuts.

And so I present Curried Spinach Salad adapted from a decades-old local collection of recipes, The Art of Salad.  This original recipe was credited to Judi Frank. And you know me … I changed the recipe quite a bit from the original copy!

Oldie But Goodie Spinach Salad with Curry Dressing

Serves 8-12


Salad Ingredients
  • 1 lb. fresh baby spinach, washed and stems removed
  • 2 pink lady or gala apples, cored and sliced thin (leave the peels on)
  • ⅔ c dry roasted salted Spanish peanuts with skins
  • ½ c dark Thompson raisins
  • 1 bunch thinly sliced green onion, white and light green parts only
  • 3 T toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Curry Dressing Ingredients
  • ⅓ c unseasoned rice vinegar
  • ⅔ c canola oil or neutral oil-I believe olive oil would be good here too
  • 1 T finely chopped  mango chutney
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp dry mustard
  • A couple dashes of hot sauce


To make the dressing, I dump everything together in a large jar and mix it with a Nutribullet or immersion blender to make it creamier.

Wash,  dry and de-stem spinach and place in a large salad bowl.  Prepare the other ingredients. Soak the sliced green onions in cold water for a minute, then rinse and dry them.  This takes out the “bite” and aftertaste!

Mix apple slices (reserve about ¼ of them), peanuts, raisins and onions and place on top of the spinach. Mix with a bit of the dressing, toss and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.   I often garnish the very top with extra slices of apple.

Do not overdress the salad. You will need less than half of the dressing recipe.  The remaining salad dressing will keep for a long time in the fridge (about two weeks) and is good in grainy, room temperature salads too.

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Shrimp & Grapefruit Salad

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Sunny Shrimp & Gorgeous Grapefruit

I love this quick to prepare, fresh tasting and protein-laden salad.  During winter when citrus fruits are fresh and plentiful, this is the kind of salad I often crave. That said, now that winter is, hopefully, in our rearview- it’s also delightful to eat al fresco!

So…when my very pregnant daughter-in-law said she felt like a hearty salad with protein, I immediately thought of this Vietnamese-inspired salad.  It would be equally wonderful with sauteed tofu or shredded chicken in lieu of shrimp if that sounds better to you.

Shrimp & Grapefruit Salad



4-6 servings

  • 1 ½ pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Salt to sprinkle on the shrimp as they cook – about ¼ tsp
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce (I use Red Boat)
  • 1 Tbsp tamari sauce
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Juice of 2 average size limes
  • 6 cups mixed arugula and mixed greens, washed and dried
  • 3 pink grapefruit, peeled and sectioned, tough white pith removed, each section cut in half
  • ⅓ cup chopped mint leaves
  • ⅓ cup chopped cilantro (leaves and stems are fine)
  • ½ cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts

Grill or saute shrimp (or tofu or chicken breast pieces) in a little oil briefly, sprinkling with a little salt.  When cool, cut the shrimp in half widthwise.

Combine fish sauce and tamari with water, sugar and lime juice, and whisk until smooth. Taste and adjust.

Arrange the lettuce on 4 plates; top each portion with a few grapefruit pieces, some shrimp, and the mint and cilantro; drizzle with the dressing, then sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

Cook’s Notes:

Minced chilies or dried red pepper flakes are good to sprinkle on top if you are serving spice lovers.

FYI, I keep the parts of this salad in separate containers so you can have it two or three days in a row.

Source: The New York Times

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Cranberry Orange Nut Bread

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Simple & Delicious Cranberry Orange Nut Bread

Honestly, I thought I posted this fruit bread recipe long ago, but when I searched my own website I was surprised to see that I’ve been holding back.  I’ve been making this cranberry bread since back in the day when everyone thought fat or oil was the devil, and so the fact that this has just two  tablespoons of oil meant it was healthful.  Never mind that the recipe contains white flour, white sugar…and fast forward to 2018.  Obviously, this isn’t the healthiest quick bread in town, but it is still good, easy and a hit with most everyone.  I tend to make a few loaves of this during the winter months – November through February when fresh cranberries are easy to find in every grocery store (and in my freezer).  

Try it, you’ll have no trouble making this and you’ll make it more than once.  I promise.  And speaking of once, why not double the recipe and make two loaves at a time!? A mixing bowl, a spatula to stir everything together…no electronics needed here folks.  You can do this.  

Fresh out of the oven!

At risk of sounding boastful, I must tell you that I came up with a genius way to freeze this bread – and really any other quick bread (think banana bread, lemon bread, pumpkin bread).  With just two of us in the house, an entire loaf of anything gets a bit stale if I keep it around until it is gone.  So now, I make little squares of parchment paper.  I then slice the bread and put a square of parchment in between every slice of fruit bread.  That way I can take one or two slices out of the freezer at a time.  As my late mother would say, “smart girl.”

Go forth and bake!  

Cranberry Orange Nut Bread



Makes 1 Loaf

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 2 T sunflower or any neutral oil
  • ¾ c orange juice
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cranberries (if frozen, defrost them first)
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped nuts (I use either pecans or walnuts)
  • Grated peel of one orange

Grease a 9 x 5 x 3” bread pan.  Preheat oven to 350.  

Combine dry ingredients with wet (juice, oil, and egg), stir in cranberry/nut/orange rind mixture at the end.  

Scrape into the bread pan and even out the top.  

Bake 45-55 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean, and cool on a rack for 15 minutes then remove from pan.  Cool completely.  Wrap and store for up to three days, or freeze for up to four months.

Cook’s notes:

  • This is a great accompaniment to salty or savory main dishes such as a frittata or eggy dishes.  Much easier than individual scones or muffins!
  • Quick breads are so forgiving that I am pretty sure you could substitute a third of the white flour with white whole wheat flour.  
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Canal House Lentils

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My New Favorite Meal!

Winter and lentils go together in my world, as long as winter is in a cold-ish location because I feel that winter doesn’t count if you are in a tropical place. So since I’m in Seattle as I type this – as opposed to basking in the glorious sunshine in Central America- and it’s cold and blustery outside and already dark at 4:45 pm, I am craving wintery foods.

And what I hankered for earlier this morning was lentils.  (Now you know how strange I am!) I figured I could make a batch and have them topped with poached egg and avocado for breakfast or as a side dish with along with oven roasted root vegetables to accompany fish.  

So began my search.  I looked at many blogs and online recipes and settled on “Canal House Lentils.”  Bon Appetit and Epicurious both published this recipe, and they were fairly identical.  Mine?  Much is more or less the same but I editorialized a lot more.

Just so you know, French Green Lentils or Puy lentils (I get them in bulk at my supermarket) as they are also called, take the longest to cook stovetop but stay firmer when all is said and done.  Mine took 45 minutes to cook and the lentils are soft, a little soupy and oh-so-good.  I think they are best slightly warm; a lot of the liquid reabsorbs if you leave them in the pot without a lid once the cooking finishes.  My chief clean up person and food critic (aka husband) remarked how these tasted so meaty!

Canal House Lentils A La Marilyn

Serves 6 (the original recipe said serves 8, but that would never fly over here.  I’ll be lucky to get 4 servings, given my affinity for lentils.)



  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, cleaned and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (remember the tube?)
  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • Freshly ground black pepper to finish (The original recipe said Kosher salt to taste also, but I found them salty enough without, and I’m a salt lover)
  • Thinly sliced scallions (optional; for serving)

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add leek, garlic, and tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and tomato paste begins to darken, about 4 minutes.

Add lentils and 2 ½ cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, 45–55 minutes.

Remove from the heat and keep them covered for 10 minutes; add tamari and season with pepper.

After the lentils sit for 10 minutes off the heat, and after I added the tamari and pepper,  I removed the lid and let them breathe for another 15 minutes to absorb some of the liquid.  And I definitely recommend the scallions on top for a little brightness.

Cook’s notes

  • You can make these up to five days ahead – just cover them tightly and leave in the fridge.
  • I am thinking of making these a little middle eastern by crumbling the top with some feta cheese (very little) and possibly some preserved chopped lemon.  Just a thought to make these less brown. If I actually do this, I’ll cut down on the tamari.
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Chickpea Lentil Stew

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Sumptuous Garbanzo Lentil Stew

OK, listen up.  I should call this “garbage soup” because I made it primarily to use my home cooked garbanzo beans that have been sitting in my freezer for a while along with a few things I found in my fridge: some extra recently made chicken broth, a few dried lentils, some sprigs of cilantro, an almost dead lemon, and some not-so-fresh celery.  

It was one of those days, a day to pencil out my meals for next week and clean out the fridge, and suddenly I decided to do a riff on a vegetarian Moroccan soup we had the night before Thanksgiving.  At that time my sisters made a humongous pot of soup so I pared it down a lot, added a lot more stuff (i.e. green beans, cumin, cinnamon, capellini pasta) …you get my drift.  My final recipe here barely resembles the soup they made. But I must say, it is delicious.

Along the way I tried, really I did, to document how much of each ingredient I used.  This “recipe” is pretty close to what I made but you’ll have to taste and add this or that if you want it perfect for your taste buds.

I am so happy with this that I immediately scarfed down a large bowl midway through the afternoon.  I’m satisfied and full, and I’ll make this again.  It kind of screams blustery winter and takes just one pot and about 45 minutes, start to finish.  Most of that time is hands-off, too.

Chickpea Lentil Stew

Serves 5-6



  • ½ large brown onion, diced ¼ inch
  • 1 celery rib, chopped  into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 2 dashes of ground cinnamon
  • About 10 grinds of fresh black pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (I use Muir Glen Organic)
  • 1 ½ c cooked garbanzo beans (equal to about 1 can if you don’t have fresh). If you use canned beans, rinse and drain them.  If you make a batch of chickpeas, I used about ½ cup of the liquid from cooking them.  It tastes so good!
  • ½ cup dried brown lentils
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro, leaves, and stems
  • ⅓ cup capellini noodles, broken into 1-inch pieces
  • About ½  cup fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Juice of ½-1 lemon
  • Parsley or more chopped cilantro to garnish

Over medium heat, warm the oil in a large saucepan, saute the onion and celery gently for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the cumin, cinnamon, and pepper and stir into the mixture for another minute.

Turn up the heat, then add four cups of stock, tomatoes, garbanzo beans and lentils

Simmer for about a half hour until the lentils are soft.

Throw in green beans, capellini bits and lemon juice, cook for a further two minutes.

Remove from the heat and let it stand for at least ten minutes to finish cooking the green beans and noodles.  The stew is quite thick so add more water or broth if you prefer it thinner.

Season to taste with additional salt, pepper or lemon juice, then top with chopped parsley or cilantro to serve.

Serve with pita bread or crackers.

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Hamentashen – Four Years Later!

I’m already baking up a batch of Hamentashen for Purim – one of my favorite Jewish holidays which is coming up in a week on February 28! I made three versions, filling one with mixed fruit (like the recipe below, one with poppy seeds and one with plain chopped prunes (just substituted the prunes for the apricots and used a touch more jam).

I hope you’ll try these whether or not you’re celebrating Purim. IMHO, they’re easily one of the best cookies I make!


Originally posted March 12, 2014

Click here to view recipe.

Ready for the Oven

Ready for the Oven

A beloved (but lesser known to the outside world) and joyous Jewish holiday is Purim – and this year the holiday begins at sunset on Saturday, March 15, and ends on Sunday evening, March 16. Purim recalls a time when Jews living in Persia were saved from extermination.

It is one time where Jews whose background, especially those of Eastern European or Mediterranean (Ashkenazic and Sephardic) descent, observe the date with lots of partying and drinking. And there is one food that is found at nearly every celebration – or one filled cookie I should say. Hamentashen (plural) ! Pronounced HAH-men tash en, these triangle-shaped, filled cookies remind us of Haman (the villain’s) three cornered hat.

In my case, these cookies remind me of my Aunt Tillie aka Teensy and my Aunt Esther, my mother’s older sisters. They made the very best hamentashen and I love, love, love these little delicacies. While my three kids were in college, I used to send boxes of these adorable cookies for them to enjoy in their dorm rooms and to share with friends.

The oil dough is so easy to work with and the filling isn’t too sweet. Best of all, they freeze for up to three months and travel well – no crumbling or fragility here. I like these so much I make a few times during the year – not only for Purim!

Heavenly Hamentashen

Heavenly Hamentashen

Aunt Tilly’s and Aunt Esther’s Fruit Hamentashen

Makes approximately 30-40 cookies





  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh orange juice
  • ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Rind of one medium orange, grated
  • dash of salt
  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. non aluminum baking powder


NOTE: I know I talk about playing with recipes from time to time… but FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS for good results!

Combine flour with baking powder, salt and orange rind. Using a food processor or heavy mixer, mix eggs, oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Gradually add dry ingredients. The dough will be soft. Scrape it into an oiled bowl and cover with saran; refrigerate the dough overnight so it firms up.



  • 12 ounces dried California apricots, dice in food processor or by hand
  • 12 ounce pitted prunes, dice in food processor or by hand
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup apricot or other flavor jam (don’t use sugar free)

Dice prunes and apricots, stir in jam and cinnamon to combine. This fruit filling will be thick.

A Dollop of Fruit Filling

A Dollop of Fruit Filling


Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or lightly oil them. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and adjust so the cookie sheets fit on the middle racks.

Divide dough into 4 pieces and keep it refrigerated except for the piece you’re rolling. Roll each quarter of dough on a lightly floured board or pastry cloth into a 1/8” thickness. Using the top of a 4” glass dipped in flour, cut out circles.

Put a heaping teaspoon (walnut size) of the fruit filling in the center of each cookie, and pinch the dough around it so it forms a triangular shape. You can recombine the scraps of dough and roll them again to form additional circles. Bake 15-20 minutes until nicely brown. Cool on rack. These can be frozen between layers of waxed paper for up to three months.

Notes: I have a really cute circular ruffled cookie cutter that I used for these cookies – it makes them look a little fancy when I am in that kind of mood. And from time to time, I fill the hamentashen with a nice thick poppyseed filling…next year I might share that recipe too!!  At times I have rolled the dough much tinned which yielded many more cookies, but thicker dough seems to hold the cookies better-otherwise they seem to “flop” over and they aren’t so pretty.

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