lamb kofta with tomato sauce, yogurt, and pita

This is a Turkish recipe that is variously called yoğurtlu kebab, or, when I’ve had it in restaurants, İskender kebab (though technically İskender kebabs are made with doner meat, the preparation is otherwise basically the same). Little spiced lamb meatballs, or kofta, are nestled on toasted pita with tangy yogurt and tomato sauce, and then everything is drizzled with olive oil or melted butter mixed with paprika. The pita soaks up the yogurt and juices from the meat and becomes soft and so very delicious. I have this in Turkish restaurants often, and am so excited that I can now make it at home.  Read the rest of this entry »


salmon and mango stuffed mushrooms

Many stuffed mushroom recipes are for little party canapes. Not these mushrooms. You fill portobello caps with a mixture of salmon, mango, coconut milk, soy sauce, garlic, and basil, bake until everything is juicy and tender, and serve over a bed of fluffy jasmine rice (which you’ve ideally cooked with the extra coconut milk from the can). It’s a burst of tropical flavor, which I promise tastes much better than it looks (and it looks better than this picture suggests, as I momentarily forgot what little I know about photography, and took this picture in a dumb way).

This recipe was originally invented by my friend Andrew, who is a rather more skilled cook than I am, and makes up his own recipes (I get a little freaked out without a clear set of instructions). I had these for the first time when we were doing a semester abroad at Oxford. We have the same birthday, and a lot of our friends from undergrad were visiting, so he came over to my house and made these for lunch. When I heard the list of ingredients I was a bit dubious (because I was picky and narrow-minded!), but when I ate them, I thought they were fantastic.  Read the rest of this entry »

blueberry buttermilk pancakes

Here’s another entry for the lazy weekend breakfast category: light, fluffy, buttermilk pancakes dotted with little bursts of blueberry. Having someone make pancakes for you is a great way to enjoy a slow weekend morning. When I was still living at home, my dad used to make pancakes and bacon for us every Sunday. When I went away to college, my roommate, Stacey, would make chocolate chip pancakes from time to time, which were always a treat. I make the pancakes myself these days (at least until I teach Mark some pancake skills), but that is fun too, because I get to try all kinds of different flavors.

These are my current favorite. I’ve been let down many a time by recipes promising buttermilk pancakes or biscuits that had virtually no taste of buttermilk in the end, so when I saw the large quantity of buttermilk in the ingredient list on this recipe, I knew it would be a winner. I promise you can taste the buttermilk here, and the sweet, juicy berries are the perfect complement to the buttermilk’s tanginess. I highly recommend that you make these tomorrow, or next weekend, and share them with a friend.  Read the rest of this entry »

tomato sauce with garlic and basil

This pasta is, for me, the essence of summer. Tomatoes, basil, garlic, and olive oil are simmered for 20-ish minutes to produce a light, fresh, and healthy sauce. It is so much better than any tomato sauce you will ever find in a jar, and it isn’t complicated at all. When tomatoes are out of season, it can be made with canned tomatoes, and is still delicious. It’s very versatile; I’ve eaten it alone on pasta (as above), and used it in both chicken and eggplant parmesan. This is the first tomato sauce I attempted to make from scratch last summer. I tried several other versions after this, some with long lists of ingredients that started with a mirepoix (diced onion, carrot, and celery) and included wine, sugar, and red pepper, and they just didn’t match the simple goodness of this sauce.

This is another recipe from Marcella Hazan’s The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. This book is worth owning just for the pasta section, which is over 100 pages long and includes 50+ recipes for different sauces (disclosure: I haven’t actually tried anything outside of the pasta section, because there are so many tasty-looking pasta recipes). Marcella always recommends certain pasta shapes for certain sauces. Before buying this book, it had never occurred to me that pairing pasta to sauces was something that was done, but I have tried her recommendations and understand now that certain pastas and sauces complement each other very well. I think this sauce, though, can be used with a variety of pastas; she recommends spaghetti or spaghettini (smaller spaghetti noodles), but I’ve also enjoyed it with linguine (my own favorite noodle!) and penne. Whatever pasta you use, some crusty bread is an absolute necessity. How else will you mop up the sauce leftover on your plate once you’ve eaten all the noodles? (Er, other than scooping it up with a spoon, which I have definitely done before).  Read the rest of this entry »

green beans with onion paste

Green beans with onion paste

There’s a lot more than onion that goes into this Indian recipe for green beans, but this is the name my cookbook gives it. I’ve stuck with it, since there are so many different flavors involved in this dish that it’s hard to pick just one or two to define it. You start with a paste of onion, ginger, garlic, and tomato, add ground coriander and cumin, fry black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and hot red peppers separately, then add everything together and allow the beans to simmer and soak up the flavors for about half an hour. The final product isn’t distinctly oniony; my onion-hating boyfriend even liked them (though I didn’t tell him their proper name until after he’d had a few bites lest it unfairly prejudice him against them!).  Read the rest of this entry »

fettucine alfredo

When my sister and I were in high school, we had what we thought was a very special way of making fettucine alfredo. We’d start with a store-bought jar of alfredo sauce (our first bad move), add gobs of shredded mozzerella, and liberally shake on garlic salt. The resulting sauce was gloppy, stringy, and very salty and garlicky, if my memory serves me correctly. We used to rave about it to our friends and whip some up for them when we had sleepovers.

Since then, I like to think that my palate (among other things), has matured considerably. When I did a bit of traveling around Italy, one of the first things I noticed about the food was that Italians use significantly less sauce on their pasta than Americans do when we try to make Italian food. This fettucine alfredo recipe is truly Italian, and is thus not gloppy, stringy, or garlicky in any way at all. The predominant flavor comes from a quality parmigiano cheese, freshly grated. If you’ve never made alfredo from scratch, it is totally worth giving a try, as it is not complicated at all. It takes less than 30 minutes to throw together, and is so much lighter and fresher than the sauce you get in a jar. With a big green salad, crusty bread (recipe forthcoming), and a glass of white wine, it makes a wonderful summer dinner.  Read the rest of this entry »

double chocolate crêpes

I am only three posts into this blog, and two out of three recipes so far involve chocolate (and double-chocolate, at that). These are chocolate crêpes filled with Nutella. They probably don’t need much more of an introduction than that.

While these are certainly appropriate for a dessert, I made them last weekend for breakfast. During the week, breakfast is pretty much oatmeal (or “gruel”, as Mark likes to call it), because it is healthy and requires minimal effort from not my-yet-functional brain. I love breakfast foods though, so on the weekends I like to wake up in a more leisurely fashion and make more complicated and exciting food to start the day.  Read the rest of this entry »