Sunday, May 31, 2009

Peanut Butter Crunch

NOTE: When making chocolate candies, the quality of the chocolate is very important. I would suggest going to a specialty culinary store and paying a few dollars extra to get the professional grade stuff - Hershey's and Ghiridelli just aren't going to melt and reset evenly. For the peanut butter, I would recommend using the real stuff (where the only ingredient is peanuts).


  • Bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks, 60 - 66% dark
  • Peanut butter
  • Rice Krispies
  • Almonds, crushed
  • Raisins


  1. In a double boiler, gently melt 3/4 of the chocolate and some peanut butter until smooth and creamy
  2. Remove from heat and add the reserved 1/4 of the chocolate, mixing until melted
  3. Add the Rice Krispies, almonds and raisins, mixing well
  4. Before the chocolate sets up, lay out a sheet of wax paper over a cookie sheet
  5. Using a spoon or your hands, dollop out small balls of the mix onto the wax paper. They will collapse into a half sphere but should not completely flatten out. If they do collapse, add more Rice Krispies, almonds and/or raisins
  6. Wrap each piece in candy paper or aluminum foil when they have cooled and set completely

Chicken Chipotle with Potatoes and Beans

La Ballona, a local Mexican restaurant in downtown Culver City, makes the best chicken chipotle. This is my attempt at their classic recipe.

  • Pinto beans
  • Red onion, chopped
  • Garlic, chopped
  • Potatoes, cubed
  • Chicken, cubed
  • Chipotle peppers (canned in adobo sauce)
  • Black pepper
  • Cilantro, chopped
  1. In a pot, boil the beans until tender
  2. In a large pan, sauté the onion and garlic in a bit of extra virgin olive oil until tender
  3. Add the potatoes and cook until they tender up a little bit
  4. Add the chicken pieces, cooking all sides until they turn white
  5. Add the beans and chipotle peppers with adobo sauce
  6. Grind some fresh black pepper into the pan, to taste
  7. Simmer this for a while until the potatoes are very tender and the chicken is cooked all the way through, adding water when the sauce becomes too thick
  8. Finally, add the chopped cilantro and mix well
  9. Serve hot with rice and corn tortillas

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Barley Vegetable Soup

Soups are an easy solution to the what-to-bring-to-work-for-lunch dilemma. You make them on the weekend and they're ready to dish out each morning before heading into the office. This recipe came about as I was looking for another use for all the garbanzo beans I had just purchased.


  • Onion, finely diced
  • Celery, finely diced
  • Carrot, finely diced
  • Bay leaf
  • Garbanzo beans, soaked overnight
  • Chicken stock
  • Barley oats
  • Potatoes, finely diced
  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Turmeric
  • Pancetta (optional)
  • Scallions, chopped
  • Mushrooms, finely diced
  • White vinegar, splash
  • Cream, splash


  1. Sauté first 4 ingredients until vegetables have softened
  2. Add garbanzo beans and mix well
  3. Add chicken stock and simmer for 30 minutes or until garbanzo beans are tender
  4. Add barley oats and potatoes
  5. Simmer for another 30 minutes, or until tender
  6. Add black pepper, cayenne pepper and turmeric to taste
  7. If using pancetta, sauté in a separate pan until browned
  8. Sauté scallions and mushrooms lightly with pancetta or extra virgin olive oil then add to the stock
  9. Add vinegar and cream
  10. Remove bay leaf immediately before serving


I used to buy granola to put in my yogurt at breakfast for quite a while. After a few months, however, I became bored with the store-bought varieties and wanted to pursue a more cost-effective option, thus leading me to devise the following mix-in combinations for a home-made granola base.

You can make any kind of granola you want, the recipe below is provided only as a base. Basically throw in anything you think sounds tasty. A good starting point, if you are coming to a blank, would be to look at the list of ingredients in the granola or granola bars you like.


  • Old fashioned oats
  • Honey

Mix-in Combination Suggestions

  • Pecans, walnuts and dried cranberries or
  • Orange flavored dried cranberries, orange zest and almonds or
  • Ripe banana or
  • Dried cranberries, almonds, walnuts and sunflower seeds or
  • Lemon zest, grated ginger and dried cranberries or
  • Peanut butter and brown sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 250°
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients and mix
  3. Add the wet and sticky ingredients and mix thoroughly (you may simmer to infuse these ingredients for better flavor)
  4. The mixture should be difficult to mix with a spoon, so I suggest mixing with your hands
  5. If the mixture is too wet or sticky, add more oats
  6. Bake on a cookie sheet for ~30 minutes, or until golden brown, mixing half way through
  7. Let the granola cool completely before moving to an air-tight container

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Chicken Curry

This is another recipe that changes just about every time I make it. Feel free to experiment with the spice combinations.


  • Onions, finely chopped
  • Garlic, thinly sliced
  • Chilies, dried
  • Chicken, cubed
  • Spices
    • Black peppercorns
    • Mustard seeds
    • Cumin seeds
    • Cardamom pods
    • Coriander seeds
    • Chili powder
    • Turmeric
  • Chicken stock
  • Tomato paste
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Cilantro, finely chopped


  1. Sauté the onions, garlic and chilies in extra virgin olive oil until onions are translucent
  2. Season the chicken and add to the pan, browning the outside
  3. Grind spices in mortar and pestle or spice grinder and add to pan, mixing well
  4. Add chicken stock, tomato paste and tomatoes to pan, stirring well
  5. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is reduced to desired consistency
  6. Add cilantro and stir thoroughly
  7. Serve with rice and naan

Chicken Quesadillas

These are easy to make, but require some preparation time. If you want to save on the prep time, I would suggest buying some small corn tortillas from the supermarket.


  • 1 T butter
  • Cooked polenta (cornmeal)
  • Flour
  • Cheese (queso fresco and/or cheddar work well), shredded
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded or finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion (or 4 scallions), finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
  • A few sprigs of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Cayenne pepper powder (optional for additional heat)

Tortilla Directions

  1. Melt the butter and add to the polenta
  2. Add enough flour to the polenta to form a pliable dough
  3. Using a floured surface, break off golf-ball sized pieces of the dough and mold them into small balls
  4. Use a tortilla press to flatten dough
  5. In a frying pan, add splash of olive oil and heat to medium
  6. When oil is hot, add the raw tortilla shells one at a time, cooking until just done (~1 minute per side)
  7. Place cooked tortilla shells on a paper towel covered plate to drain excess oil

Quesadilla Directions

  1. Place some cheese on the tortilla first, followed by all other toppings, then top with cheese (the cheese acts as a “glue” to keep the tortilla together when cooking and eating)
  2. Fold the quesadilla in half and cook in cast iron pan until cheese is melted
  3. Serve finished quesadillas with home-made guacamole and salsa

Monday, May 4, 2009


Avocados are a staple in every type of food imaginable in California. You can order them in your pizzas, salads, sandwiches, sushi and pretty much everything else. Until we moved out here, I never really tried them. Now I also add them to everything, but my first experiment with the regional fruit was in this guacamole recipe.


  • 2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/3 medium red onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 T lime juice


  1. Using a potato masher or your hands, mush all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl until the desired consistency is achieved
  2. Refrigerate in an air-tight container and serve chilled with quesadillas or chips

Pomegranate Chocolates

NOTE: When making chocolate candies, the quality of the chocolate is very important. I would suggest going to a specialty culinary store and paying a few dollars extra to get the professional grade stuff - Hershey's and Ghirardelli just aren't going to melt and reset evenly.


  • 1 lb. bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks, 60 - 66% dark
  • 1 orange
  • ~8 green cardamom pods, freshly ground with the shell pieces removed
  • 3 pomegranates, arils only (the red seed casings)
  • Sugar


  1. In a small pot, simmer the pomegranate seeds with juice of one orange until juicy
  2. Add some sugar, to taste
  3. Simmer until the pomegranate mixture becomes syrupy
  4. Remove from heat and blend thoroughly, the pomegranate seeds probably won't blend very well
  5. Strain the pomegranate mixture with cheesecloth to remove all of the seeds. The final mixture will be very thick and will probably be reduced to 1/8 cup (or less) total volume
  6. In a double boiler, gently melt 3/4 of the chocolate, zest of one orange and cardamom powder until smooth and creamy
  7. Remove from heat and add the reserved 1/4 of the chocolate, mixing until melted
  8. Before the chocolate sets up, lay out a sheet of wax paper over a cookie sheet
  9. Using a spoon, spread out small half-dollar sized portions of chocolate, being careful to use up only a little less than half of the total chocolate mixture
  10. Let the first layer cool and set. You may want to place the cookie sheet full of chocolates in the refrigerator for a few minutes to prevent the remaining mix from setting up
  11. Using another spoon, spread a very thin layer of the pomegranate mixture over the cooled first layer of chocolate. This should be a very thin layer because the pomegranate mix is so concentrated
  12. Cool this second layer as well
  13. Cover the candies with another layer of chocolate, being sure to seal in all of the pomegranate filling
  14. Wrap each piece in candy paper or aluminum foil when they have cooled and set completely