Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hummus, Fresh

I discovered the magical powers of fresh hummus at a restaurant here in Culver City called Tender Greens. If you are a fan of the standard tannish grey variety at all, you definitely need to try it with fresh beans. The beans, by the way, look like little green brains inside their pods - so that's a plus (?).

  • Garbanzo beans, fresh and green
  • Garlic clove, chopped
  • White peppercorns
  • Sesame seeds
  • Cilantro
  • Lime juice
  1. In a shallow sauté pan, simmer beans, garlic and peppercorns in a bit of olive oil
  2. When garlic is tender, add just enough water to half cover the beans
  3. To make tahini, puree sesame seeds with a little water in a food processor
  4. When beans are tender, remove from heat
  5. Puree bean mixture with cilantro into a fine paste
  6. Mix together the tahini, bean paste and lime juice
  7. Salt to taste
  8. Serve with fresh pita bread or falafel

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lentil Soup

Hey all!

This is one of my favorite recipes and it changes every single time I make it. Ever in the search for the perfect combination of spices and aromas, the following is a good starting point when I'm in the mood for some lentil soup.

I have also used the following raw spices (to varying effects) in other iterations of this recipe: fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, white peppercorns, star anise, cloves, powdered cayenne pepper, allspice pods, green cardamom pods and fennel seeds - although never all at once as this would blur the flavors of the individual elements. I prefer to use whole spices and grind them with a spice grinder or mortar and pestle just before use as this brings out the full flavor of the spice.

Inset shown with swirl of plain yogurt.

  • Red onion, thinly sliced
  • Garlic, thinly sliced
  • Dried chili peppers
  • Lentils
  • Almonds
  • Cinnamon
  • Black peppercorns
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Cumin seeds
  • Mustard seeds
  • Roma tomatoes, diced, optional
  • Yogurt, Greek style, optional
  • Lemon, optional
  1. In a stockpot, sauté the onions, garlic and chili peppers until the onions are tender
  2. Mix in the lentils
  3. Add enough water to appropriately handle the amount of lentils you put in (directions for cooking lentils are usually on the lentil bag)
  4. Salt the soup, if desired
  5. In a spice grinder, grind the almonds, cinnamon, black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, cumin and mustard seeds
  6. Add the spice mixture to the pot and mix well
  7. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce heat until lentils are very tender (20 - 30 minutes depending on the type of lentils used)
  8. Reserve a ladle or two full of lentils from the pot
  9. Using a stick blender (or regular blender if you do not have a stick blender), puree the soup
  10. Add back the reserved lentils
  11. Add the tomatoes to the soup (if using) and simmer for a few minutes
  12. When the soup has achieved desired thickness, remove from heat
  13. Mix in a good amount of yogurt, if desired
  14. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon and freshly made naan
Peas out!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Chicken Enchiladas


  • Garlic, minced
  • Onion, minced
  • 12 oz can tomato paste
  • Chicken stock or water
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Black pepper
  • Jalapeño, Serrano or any other spicy chili, finely chopped
  • Small corn tortilla shells
  • Chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • Basmati rice, cooked
  • Cheese (Cheddar and/or Colby Jack work fine), shredded


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°
  2. Sauté garlic and onion with a splash of extra virgin olive oil
  3. Cook until onions are tender
  4. Lower heat to simmer
  5. Add the tomato paste and enough stock to form a relatively thin sauce, stirring constantly
  6. Add the chili powder, cumin, black pepper and Serrano stirring constantly
  7. Salt to taste
  8. The sauce should simmer for a few minutes so the liquid has a chance to reduce – you will know when the sauce is about ready when there it leaves more red coloring on the stirring spoon than water
  9. In a rectangular glass baking dish, roll up the chicken, rice and cheese in the tortilla shells and lay them closely together
  10. When all shells have been rolled, pour enough of the sauce to completely cover the tortilla shells and fill in any cracks and crevices
  11. Top with a layer of shredded cheese
  12. Bake for ~20 minutes, or until sauce bubbles and tortilla shells fall apart easily with a fork

Gnocchi with cherry tomato and pancetta sauce

I can't truly say that the gnocchi recipe is my own since most basic gnocchi recipes are very similar to this one. Nevertheless, I have included it for referenced use with the various gnocchi and pasta sauces throughout this book (if they don't exist yet, they will someday :) ). Gnocchi are small potato dumplings that are most often used in pasta-like dishes.
I made the cherry tomato and pancetta sauce (below the gnocchi recipe) for Becky's birthday dinner this year. It turned out pretty well and is really easy to make!


  • Russet potatoes
  • Eggs
  • Parmesan and/or Romano cheese (freshly grated)
  • Flour
  1. I don't usually include proportions in my recipes, but I figure that for this recipe I could probably make something up. Here are my best guesses:
  2. For each pound of potato, use:
    • 1 Egg
    • 1/2 c. grated cheese
  3. One pound of potato will yield about two small first course portions
  4. Boil the potatoes with skins on until just tender - you don't want them to fall apart when a fork is put through them, but they should be tender enough to pierce easily
  5. Remove potatoes from water and place them out on a walled cookie sheet, reserving the potato water
  6. When the potatoes are just cool enough to peel (2 - 3 minutes), remove all skin and blemishes
  7. Roughly mash the potatoes with a fork, but be careful not to overdo it - you want to mash them just enough so all large chunks have been broken down
  8. Let the potatoes sit for a while and cool, 10 - 15 minutes
  9. After they have reached a comfortable temperature, put them in a large bowl with the cheese and egg, mixing well
  10. The dough will be pretty sticky at this point, so begin adding flour a little at a time until the ball is pliable and able to be gently rolled out without breaking
  11. If you end up adding too much flour, work some of the reserved potato water into the dough
  12. Remove a small chunk of the dough, smaller than baseball size, and place the rest of the dough into a covered bowl
  13. Roll out this chunk into a long snake about 1/2" thick
  14. Cut the snaked dough into 1" segments, these will be the dumplings
  15. If you would like, there are a few techniques you can use to get the traditional gnocchi shape (ridges) that help to keep the dumpling covered in whatever sauce you serve them with. I use a gnocchi paddle, which you can pick up at a specialty culinary store; or you can just use the back side of a fork. This is kind of a tricky procedure to explain without pictures, so search for "shaping gnocchi" in Google to see how it's done.
  16. And that's it for the dumplings themselves. You can use them in place of traditional pasta in many dishes. If you do not use them right away, they freeze very well.

Cherry Tomato and Pancetta Sauce

  • Red onion, finely sliced
  • Garlic, minced
  • Pancetta, chopped into 1/8" chunks
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Basil, fresh
  • Oregano, fresh
  • Chianti
  1. In a large pan, sauté the onion and garlic in a bit of extra virgin olive oil until tender
  2. Add the pancetta and sauté for about 5 minutes
  3. Add the whole cherry tomatoes to the pan
  4. Reduce heat to medium low and cover, stirring occasionally to prevent the ingredients from sticking to the pan
  5. The tomatoes will begin to soften and burst after a few minutes
  6. When the tomatoes have formed a nice sauce, add the fresh basil and oregano and mix well
  7. Add some chianti to the sauce and scrape up any pieces that may have gotten stuck to the bottom of the pan
  8. Simmer the sauce until slightly reduced
  9. Best served immediately over gnocchi (44).

Pad Thai

Hey all!

This is an interpretation of a Thai pasta dish that Becky and I created one night for dinner, not knowing it would turn out so well!

  • Linguine pasta
  • Raw shrimp
  • Snow peas
  • Raw peanuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T red pepper flakes
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 3 T lime juice
  • 2 T cilantro
  • 5 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 6 oz bean sprouts
  • 3 T peanut satay sauce (look in the foreign foods section of the supermarket, or at any Asian market)
  • Splash of white wine
  • 1 Egg


  1. Cook linguine al dente
  2. In a wok (or large frying pan) add a splash of olive oil
  3. When oil is hot add shrimp and cook until pink
  4. Add handful of snow peas and a couple small handfuls peanuts
  5. After 2 – 4 minutes add the garlic, red pepper flakes and scallions and cook until scallions have softened
  6. By this time, the peanuts should be nice and toasty so add the lime juice, cilantro, basil leaves, bean sprouts, satay sauce and wine
  7. Mix thoroughly
  8. To finish, crack the egg over all ingredients and mix well, scrambling the egg
  9. Add the linguine, giving a few good tosses and serve immediately
Peas out!

Gołąbki (Golumpkies)

Originally sent November 1, 2008

Hey all!

A few weeks ago I got a huge craving for golumpkies (Polish stuffed cabbage rolls). I don't know where the craving came from, to be honest, since I've only had them a handful of times in my life. But there it was, a nagging growl in my stomach begging for slightly spicy, seasoned meat rolled in a steamed cabbage leaf covered in a thin tomato sauce... Mmm... Not to mention the fact that they actually came up a couple times in casual conversation recently. Everything seemed to be pointing me in the same direction, so finally I succumbed to the cravings and came up with the following recipe.

For anyone out there who has made golumpkies before, this recipe probably isn't too much different than the one you use. I added a few additional spices, fresh cilantro and replaced the more traditional rice with potatoes, but other than that, I think it's pretty standard.



  • Ground beef
  • Ground turkey
  • Red onion, finely chopped
  • New potatoes, diced
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Chili peppers, finely chopped
  • Garlic, minced
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Black peppercorns
  • Mustard seeds
  • Coriander seeds
  • Salt, optional
  • Egg
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Tomato sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 325° if you plan on making the cabbage rolls immediately
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, turkey, onion, potatoes, cilantro, parsley, chillies and garlic
  3. Combine the red pepper, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander and salt (optional) in a spice grinder and grind into a fine powder
  4. Add the spices to the meat mixture and mix thoroughly with your hands
  5. If you have time, cover this mixture and refrigerate overnight
  6. Core the cabbage and steam it, removing the outer leaves as they become tender
  7. Thin the tomato sauce with water (2 parts sauce to 1 part water is fine)
  8. Pour enough tomato sauce to cover the bottom of a couple glass baking dishes
  9. To make the cabbage rolls, lay a steamed cabbage leaf out on your prep surface so that it naturally curves upward
  10. Place a small, packed portion of the meat mixture at the thick end of the cabbage leaf
  11. Roll the thick end of the leaf up and over the meat
  12. Fold in the sides of the cabbage leaf
  13. Continue rolling the meat mixture toward the leaf tip (if this sounds confusing, there are plenty of pictured illustrations of how to do this online)
  14. Place the cabbage roll seam down into the tomato sauce
  15. Fill the baking dish with cabbage rolls, you can pack them fairly closely together
  16. When a dish is full, grind fresh black pepper over the rolls and cover in a generous layer of tomato sauce (the sauce should cover the rolls about half way)
  17. Bake for 60 - 75 minutes, removing every 30 minutes or so to baste the top of the rolls with tomato sauce
I heard that my great-grandpa made some amazing golumpkies, so this one is for him and our Polish ancestry on my Mom's side.

Peas out!

Sweet & Sour Chicken

Originally sent October 14, 2008

Hey all!

I'm going to pass around two recipes this time. Actually, one is a recipe for an ingredient that you can use in other recipes. The other is a sauce recipe that probably isn't very good on its own. So I guess you could think of this as one complete recipe that comes in two different parts.

I borrowed the base of the Sweet and Sour Sauce recipe from a few different recipes that I found online. I then added the sesame seeds, red pepper flakes and honey to make it my own. This is a super quick sauce recipe that you can make in ten minutes or so and refrigerate for a few days if you don't have time to make the chicken (or pork) to go with it.

The Fried Chicken Pieces recipe can be used in any other recipe that calls for fried chicken (or pork) pieces. You can adjust the spices as you see fit to complement the dish you are preparing.

Another (third) recipe could have been added, but I figured that a rice recipe would only serve as unnecessary filler - so feel free to use your favorite rice recipe for this dish!

This is great reheated for work lunches, but is best fresh out of the wok! Enjoy!

Fried Chicken (or Pork) Pieces

Use your own judgment for the amount of each spice you add – there's really no science to it. Also feel free to experiment with the spices, adding different flavors that complement the dish you are making.


  • Chicken (or pork), cubed
  • Flour
  • Baking soda
  • Black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes


  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, black pepper and red pepper flakes
  2. Dredge the meat pieces through the flour mixture once, covering well
  3. Remove all meat pieces from the flour mixture and set aside
  4. Add enough water to the flour mixture to create a somewhat thin batter
  5. Heat a wok to medium-high
  6. Add a generous amount of corn oil to the wok and allow the oil to heat up
  7. Dredge the floured meat pieces through the batter, shaking off the excess
  8. Add the meat pieces to the wok in small batches – you don't want the meat to be too crowded
  9. Transfer the meat pieces to a paper towel covered plate when they rise to the top of the oil and are a golden brown color
  10. Add wherever fried chicken or pork pieces are needed

Sweet & Sour Sauce

Note: Try adding lemon or orange zest for more citrus flavor


  • Sesame seeds
  • Red pepper flakes
  • White vinegar/rice vinegar
  • Ketchup
  • Honey
  • Cornstarch, mixed in some water


  1. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan on medium-high heat until lightly browned
  2. Add red pepper flakes and vinegar when seeds are toasted, temporarily removing the pan from heat until the steam subsides
  3. Add a couple squeezes of ketchup and honey, mixing well
  4. Taste test the sauce and adjust the vinegar, ketchup and honey levels as desired
  5. When the desired taste has been achieved, add some of the cornstarch mixture to thicken the sauce
  6. Serve with fried chicken (or pork) pieces over rice

Rice + Fried Chicken (or Pork) Pieces + Sweet & Sour Sauce = MMM-azing! This is an easy dish that you can make year-round since none of the ingredients are seasonal (unless you use in-season citrus).

Peas out!

Harvest Soup

Originally sent September 28, 2009

Hey all!

It has been at least a year since my previous send, but I've decided to try the group mailing thing again. Since I'm terrible about filling people in on the daily operations out here in LA via email, I'm going to utilize this communication medium for something completely different - FOOD! Well, I guess it isn't completely different since I'm always eating, and subsequently always cooking. Every month, I come up with a small handful of new recipes. Some are way good and others are rather...not. I will reserve the latter for myself and share the former with the rest of you in hopes that you will enjoy them as well. I will provide the recipes in a couple different forms: the first will be in standard text format in the body of this email, and the second will be a more printer-friendly PDF version as an attachment. If anyone has any questions/comments/suggestions for any of these recipes, I would love to hear them. So go ahead, print them out, change things up a bit and let me know how it goes!

I came up with this recipe less than 24 hours ago. It was my dinner last night and my breakfast this morning. I thought it would be fitting to release this now since the main ingredients are very seasonal, harvest-time vegetables. It's easy out here in California to find these veggies fresh at farmers' markets and grocery stores, but I'm sure they are still available out east for those of you who are actually experiencing a change in the seasons (lucky...). So, here we go, this first recipe I've titled simply as "Harvest Soup".

This is a hearty, sweet vegetable soup. If you find it too sweet for your liking, add some cayenne powder or a pinch of salt – these will help to soften the overpowering sweetness. On the contrary, if you find that your veggies aren't sweet enough, add some brown sugar.
  • Red bell peppers
  • Onions, chopped
  • Carrots, chopped
  • Garlic, chopped
  • Sweet corn kernels, divided
  • Summer squash ( zucchini, pattypan/scallop, etc.), chopped and divided
  • Heirloom tomatoes, divided
  • Coriander seeds
  • Mustard seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • Turmeric
  • Black peppercorns
  • Fresh basil, chiffonade and divided
  • Fresh chili peppers, finely chopped
  • Yogurt, plain or Greek style
  • Lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to broil
  2. Place whole red peppers on a baking sheet on the highest rack in the oven
  3. Rotate peppers every 5-7 minutes (or when they blacken) until pepper is very tender
  4. Remove peppers from oven
  5. In a large, heated stockpot, drizzle enough extra virgin olive oil to just cover the bottom
  6. Add onions, carrots and garlic to hot oil, stirring occasionally until onions are translucent and carrots are just tender
  7. Add corn and squash to the pot, reserving a small handful of both ingredients to be added at the end
  8. Cover pot, stirring occasionally until squash softens
  9. Add tomatoes and just enough water to cover vegetables in 1 inch of water
  10. Grind coriander, mustard and cumin seeds with turmeric and black peppercorns into a powder
  11. Add spice powder to pot and stir thoroughly
  12. Meanwhile, sauté reserved corn and squash in a separate pan
  13. When squash begins to brown, add reserved basil and chili peppers, mixing thoroughly
  14. Remove stockpot from heat
  15. Using a hand mixer (or blender), blend the stockpot ingredients into a paste and return to the stockpot (if using a blender)
  16. Add sautéed vegetables to blended soup for texture
  17. Add enough yogurt to achieve desired creaminess
  18. Add lemon juice, to taste

I hope you enjoy this soup! Look for to the next installment of Doof Backwards! in a few weeks. I have plenty of recipes on backlog so this could be a monthly or bi-monthly thing for a while. If there is anyone out there on this list who doesn't enjoy food (or the cooking part of it) as much as I do, just let me know and I'll remove you from the list.

Peas out!

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