Category Archives: Lunch & Dinner

Lucy! I’m home!

Because my job entails eating at approximately 15-minute intervals throughout the day, I usually feel a violent burning, gnawing sensation in my stomach by the end of the day – think John Hurt’s exploding torso in Alien. Whether this uncomfortable feeling is a result of overeating or merely my belly asking for more, Sensible Me always hops on the train thinking “You will have a green salad for dinner. And maybe some fruit for dessert.” As I sweat out my toxins in the hot yoga room, Sensible Me only wants a glass of water and luxuriates in the thought that my body is being exorcised of all the excess butter and sodium I had during the day. Sensible Me walks home and wants nothing to do with food.

15 minutes later…Sensible Me has abandoned all Lean Cuisine thoughts, busts through the door and whines, “I’m staaaaaarviiiing!!!!” I start eating everything in sight. Peanuts. Macadamia nuts. Cold leftover rice. Orange juice straight from the carton. I eventually make dinner, but, oh, how nice it is when I get home and a Special Someone has made dinner. Leafy greens and all.


Balsamic Red Onions
Serves 2

1 large red onion
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

– Preheat oven to 400 degrees
– Cut onion in half, and then into half-inch wedges
– Place in medium or large bowl
– Add vinegar and olive oil
– Season with salt and pepper
– Toss well
– Place into square or round pyrex dish
– Cook for 30 to 40 minutes.  At 15 minutes, stir onions to ensure they’ve broken loose

Chicken cutlets
Serves 4

4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 eggs
1 cup flour
2 cups bread crumbs
salt and pepper
½ cup vegetable oil
1 lemon

– Large chicken breasts can take too long to cook, leaving the inside raw and the breadcrumbs burnt.  To avoid this, either cut the chicken breasts in half or preferably just flatten them with a wooden mallet.  But before you start hammering away, place a sheet of Saran wrap on top of the chicken breast to avoid making a mess.

– Trim the chicken breasts

– The most efficient way to make breaded chicken cutlets is to setup the ingredients and do one chicken breast at a time:

– Season each chicken breast on both sides with salt and pepper
– Beat both eggs well in a shallow soup bowl
– Cover inside of large plate with coat of flour
– Cover inside of another large plate with coat of breadcrumbs

– First, lightly dredge chicken breast in flour, just enough to coat it.  Then, dip chicken breast, one side at a time in egg; let excess drip off.  Finally, dredge chicken breast in bread crumbs, making sure that it is completely covered.  Set on a clean plate to let crumbs set.  Finish this process before starting to cook chicken.

– Heat up ¼ cup of oil in large skillet on medium-high heat.  Once oil begins to smoke put in two cutlets and lower heat to medium until golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Turn over and cook other side.  If oil is too dark, clean pan and pour in fresh ¼ cup of oil.  Cook remaining cutlets.

– Slice lemon for garnish.  I like a little lemon juice on top to add some acidity.

Serve with an avocado to balance onions and salad to feel healthy about what you’re eating

Big Mouth

Sometimes I eat like a teenage boy…and he really wanted a meatball sub, so I caved in and finally made one.

Makes 6 subs

For the Sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
Salt and pepper
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons sugar
½ cup red wine
1 bay leaf
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

– Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chopped onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper pepper flakes and cook 1 minute longer. Transfer 1 cup of onion mixture to bowl and reserve.

– Add tomato paste and sugar to onion mixture in skillet and cook, stirring, until the paste begins to darken, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it’s nearly evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add the diced and crushed tomatoes and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook until thickened, a bout 1 hour. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

For the Meatballs:
Makes about 24 1-inch meatballs

2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
1/3 cup milk
1 pound 85{7e75139007ced55322cd19a88b90f170970c9802fa5abc2ce00631fcd14484e3} lean ground beef or meatloaf mix
Salt and pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil

– In a small bowl, mash together the bread and milk until thoroughly combined to make a panade. Place beef in a large mixing bowl and add the panade, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, the grated cheese, and the reserved (see sauce recipe above) onion mixture. With potato masher or hands, thoroughly combine all ingredients.

– Using a 1-tablespoon measure, scoop meat out onto a baking sheet. Roll out each tablespoonful of meat into meatballs and place back on sheet. Heat olive oil in in a large skillet over medium heat until it begins to smoke. Cook half of the meatballs until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plate and cook remaining meatballs.

– Return first batch of meatballs to skillet and add 3 cups of the tomato sauce to the skillet. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer the meatballs until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

For the Sandwiches:

6 (about 6-inch long) sub rolls
Olive oil for brushing
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Optional garnishes: banana peppers or fresh chopped basil

– While meatballs simmer, preheat oven to 400˚F. Split rolls in half lengthwise and brush all sides with olive oil. Warm bread for 5 to 7 minutes on a baking sheet, then, place tray on cooling rack. Fill each roll with 4 to 6 meatballs, top with additional sauce, and 2 to 3 tablespoons cheese and return to oven. Bake until cheese is melted, about 4 minutes. Serve with optional garnishes and additional sauce.

Taco Tuesday

There’s a taco place a few blocks away that has $1 tacos on Tuesday nights. I’ll eat and/or drink anything for a buck, but my first Taco Tuesday experience was also the last. Turns out a dollar doesn’t get you the usual high quality stuff.

I decided it was better to stay home and have my own Taco Tuesday, or more accurately put, Tostada Tuesday. There’s a little bit of assembly required, but you can make it happen while you wait for The Real Housewives of New Jersey to come on. (Yes, I watch it. Don’t judge me).


Makes 4 loaded tostadas

For the Slaw:

1 (1-pound) bag coleslaw mix
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup) *reserve half for beans
6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper

For the Beans:

1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

For the Tostadas:

4 small (about 6″ in diameter) corn tortillas
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

6 ounces chorizo, casings removed and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp


Sour cream, hot sauce, avocado, pickled jalapeños, lime wedges

-In a large bowl, combine coleslaw mix, tomato, ½ of the chopped onion, and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.

-Place a baking sheet on the center rack of the oven and preheat it to 400˚F.

-Place the beans in the bowl of a food processor. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining chopped onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic clove and continue cooking about 30 seconds. Remove skillet from heat and add onion mixture to food processor. Add ketchup and Worcestershire and pulse until beans are smooth. Transfer bean puree to the now empty skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and darkened in color, about 10 minutes.

-Meanwhile, brush both sides of each tortilla with oil and carefully place on the heated baking sheet. Bake until crisp and golden, 8 to 10 minutes.

-In a separate large skillet, cook chorizo over medium-high heat until light golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Increase heat to high, pat shrimp dry and season with salt and pepper. Add shrimp and minced garlic to skillet and cook until shrimp is opaque, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Trasnfer to plate.

-To assemble the tostadas: spread each toasted tortilla with beans, then top with shrimp, chorizo, and slaw. Garnish and serve.

Pizza Pizza!

I stroll the supermarket with the same fierce determination that I do the Bergdorf Goodman shoe department.  And just like with shoes, when it comes to food, it’s a gut reaction that leads to the purchase. Louboutins? Pizza? Both elicit visceral reactions: I see. I buy. I don’t question. I don’t regret.

Recently the object of my desire was pizza. I had a 1-pound ball of dough from Whole Foods at home, ready to party on a Friday night. Starved, I scurried from deli to produce aisle to pasta aisle. What did I want?  Hunger was distracting me, making me frantic. Did I want fancy? Did I wan ghetto? Was I feeling country or rock’n’roll? Help me Donnie and Marie!

Before I knew it I was clutching salami, a jar of Ragú Pizza Quick sauce. And a pack of Entenmann’s chocolate-frosted doughnuts (not intended for pizza topping, of course – am not that gross, despite what you may have read in this blog)… plus an individually-wrapped cheese danish, also courtesy of Entenmann’s. Had you spotted me in the checkout aisle with these products I wouldn’t have faulted you for thinking I’d been inhaling an illegal substance.

Back home, I decided there was enough room on my dough for upscale and downmarket toppings: one side got lacquered in fig jam and covered with thin slices of prosciutto and a generous shaving of Parmesan; the other got Pizza quick, salami, and (naturally!) green-can Parm.


I love eggs. To quote Dr. Seuss, “So I will eat them in a box. And I will eat them with a fox. And I will eat them in a house. And I will them with a mouse. And I will them here and there. Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE!” Scrambled, poached, fried, hard boiled…I will eat them – just not spoiled.

Many of my favorite meals (especially those I fashion from leftovers) are topped with an egg. Steak. Black bean soup. Grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Hamburger. Quesadilla. Breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner, eggs are incredibly versatile. It should come as no surprise then that pasta alla carbonara is one of my favorite dishes. It’s rich, creamy, and incorporates eggs very delicately and deliciously. Plus, it’s quick to make and can easily be pulled together with ingredients you (should) have on hand.

The following is my version of carbonara. I use cappellini instead of the usual spaghetti to cut down on cooking time and use bacon and pancetta interchangeably. Also, if you don’t have white wine on hand, I’ve found a nice lager or ale acceptable substitutions.
For vegetarians: in place of pancetta, sauté 8 ounces chopped mushrooms of your choice in 2 tablespoons olive oil until browned.


3 large eggs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
4 ounces pancetta, cut into ¼” cubes (or 6 slices bacon, chopped)
8 ounces cappellini pasta
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup white wine

– Set 4 quarts water to boil in medium pot.

– Whisk eggs in large bowl. Whisk in ¼ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and parmesan.

– Cook pancetta (or bacon) in a large skillet over medium heat until golden and some of the fat has rendered (if using bacon, transfer it to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve), 4 to 5 minutes.

-Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon salt and cappellini to water and cook until al dente, about 3 minutes. Reserve ¼ cup pasta water and drain. Return to pot.

– Add garlic to skillet and cook, stirring, until lightly golden and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in wine and remove from heat.

– Add cappellini to bowl with eggs and very quickly, using tongs or two large forks, toss to coat evenly. Stir in pancetta-wine mix (if using, stir in reserved bacon bits). If pasta looks a bit dry, add some of the reserved pasta water. Serve immediately.

Feed Me

There are days when, despite my best efforts, I eat like a voracious billy goat. I didn’t wake up this morning planning to eat complex carbs only, but that’s what I did. I gulped down an espresso for breakfast, got super busy, and all of a sudden I looked up at the clock and it was noon. I was ravenous.

I had a grilled cheese sandwich. And some manicotti. Then a Diet Coke (I suppose that doesn’t really count?). A while later I ate (ok, more like inhaled) an olive roll. And a few minutes after that I had a bit of pastry and three French fries. And one more olive roll. By 5:00pm I was bloated and full but unsatisfied. The poor nutritional choices I made left me feeling wobbly and tired so I skipped yoga (did I tell you I’ve been doing crazy Bikram yoga about 4 times a week since January?!). That means that instead of burning 800 calories this evening, I stayed home and carb loaded some more (beer, Triscuit, pastry).

At 8:00pm I decided I still wanted more to eat and finally decided to cook some real food. It was the one nice thing I did for myself today. Did you do anything nice for yourself today?


2 ounces pancetta, cut into ¼” cubes (or 3 slices bacon, chopped)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut lengthwise into 6 wedges
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
2 red apples (such as Gala or Fuji), peeled, cored, and cut into 6 wedges
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 (1-lb.) pork tenderloin, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons orange marmalade (apricot jam, apple jelly, or maple syrup may act as substitutes)
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

– Preheat oven to 450˚F.

– Cook pancetta (or bacon) in a large oven-safe skillet (a cast iron skillet is great for this recipe) over medium heat until golden and some of the fat has rendered (if using bacon, transfer it to a paper towel-lined plate and reserve), 4 to 6 minutes.

– Add oil and 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet and increase heat to medium-high. Sprinkle the onion wedges with the sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.

– Push the onions to the side of the skillet, add the apples, and cook until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Mix the apples and onions together and push to the side.

– Season pork with salt and pepper and place on empty side of skillet. Cook until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes. Distribute apple-onion mixture evenly around pork and top pork with marmalade. Transfer skillet to oven and cook until pork registers 160˚F on an instant read thermometer (145˚F if you like it pink), 8 to 10 minutes.

-Return skillet to stovetop. Transfer pork to cutting board and allow to rest 5 minutes. Meanwhile, stir remaining tablespoon butter and sherry vinegar into apple-onion mixture and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper (if using, add reserved bacon bits). Slice pork into ½” thick pieces and serve, topping with apple-onion sauce. Serve.



A Counter burger.

In anticipation of our May trip to Los Angeles, the husband and I spent countless hours researching the food scene of that city. As it was a family trip, we knew we’d have a jam-packed schedule, and thus much time was spent by Señor O in mapping out eateries and reviewing menus and online comments. At last, our selections were meticulously organized into an Excel spreadsheet and off we went. Don’t laugh – this document was as precious to us as maps of the stars’ homes are to Hollywood tourists.

Among the places we chose to visit was The Counter, a burger joint that claims to offer 312,120+ different, DIY, burger combinations said to be “as unique as each customer.” I don’t know who crunched the numbers necessary to come up with that figure nor how exact it is, but I can confirm that the number of choices offered on their check-this-box-if-you-want-this-on-your-burger menu is dizzying:

OK, I think you get the gist of it. The only things really missing from this vast menu are whipped cream and maraschino cherries – I think those are reserved for their equally exorbitant shakes.

It took me a while to settle on a 1/3-pounder beef burger with Gruyère, grilled pineapple, bacon, and I forget what else. I really wanted a fried egg but thought that with the grilled pineapple and other etc.’s would be a bit much. Imagine then my surprise when I opened up Gourmet’s July issue to discover the Aussie Burger, a Down Under burger that could hardly be contained between two buns. The ingredients in this Oz-worthy sandwich: beef patty, fried eggs, grilled pineapple, pickled beets, grilled onions (optional), and chile mayo. One glance at this whopper’s gorgeous photo was all I needed to declare it Burger Night – plus, I’d baked rolls the day before and the leftovers would be put to very good use.

Behold, my Open-Wide-and-Say-Ahhh-Burgers:


This is a recipe that the illustrious Jean-Georges Vongerichten created for Food and Wine. We adapted it to canapé size at school and used shredded osso bucco instead of short ribs. It was served atop tostones and garnished with orange suprêmes and chives. Señor O tasted the leftovers and it was love at first bite.

JGV’s slick sauce is ridiculously easy to make and is highly adaptable – I use pork, because it’s the white meat in this household, but I think it would be equally brilliant if used to shellack that other white meat: chicken. It’s finger lickin’ fantastic, natch. The sweet and tangy orange sûpremes made a comeback as a topping, but I replaced the aforementioned chives with cilantro and piled the whole thing onto freshly made corn tortillas to give it some Latin flair.

See below for the adapted recipe, and visit Food & Wine for the original.

3 lbs. pork loin
Kosher salt
1 C. ketchup
1 C. dry red wine, such as Syrah
1/3 C. red wine vinegar
1/2 C. unsulfured molasses
3 TBSP. dried onion flakes
2 TBSP. fish sauce
1 TBSP. soy sauce
1 TBSP. garlic powder
3 TBSP. seeded and minced chipotle chile in adobo
1 tsp. Asian sesame oil
2 ½ quarts water

In a large bowl, mix the ketchup, wine, vinegar, molasses, onion flakes, fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic powder, chipotle, sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of salt. Whisk in the water.

Generously season the pork loin with salt + pepper. Heat on high a pot large enough to accommodate the pork loin and the three quarts of liquid that you’ll be adding.

Add about 2 tsps. vegetable oil to the heated pot and allow to heat through, about 30 seconds. Add the pork loin and sear, browning on both sides.

Degrease the pot and return browned loin. Add the sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow the pork to simmer, covered, until tender (approximately 1 hour).

Once pork is cooked through, remove from the pot and when cool enough to handle, shred. Reserve, loosely covered with plastic wrap or foil.

Bring the sauce to a boil and allow to reduce about two-thirds (about 1 hour). Once thickened, return the shredded pork to the sauce and simmer an additional 30 minutes.

I know – it seems like a long time, but you can either start early or prepare a day in advance. It tastes just as good – and perhaps even better – a day later.

Canapé style.

Home style.



A few weeks ago I stayed with some friends in Boston and my lovely hostess not only fed me delicious home-made food from her native Turkey, but also gave me a Turkish cookbook. I simply adore collecting cookbooks, and this one in particular was a gem as I had never made anything from that particular cuisine.

As soon as I was back home I tackled lentil soup and, upon the success and popularity it enjoyed with the Mister, moved on to rice pilaf. I love, love, love rice. I had a falling out with it as a child for some reason I can neither remember nor fathom at this point, but nowadays I wish I could have it at every meal. Discovering that rice is as revered in Turkey as it is in my household, made me an even bigger fan of the newest addition to my library and its author, Özcan Ozan, who devotes an entire section to that grain.

Here, adapted from The Sultan’s Kitchen, A Turkish Cookbook (Periplus Editions, 2001) is müceddere or, rice pilaf with chickpeas, green lentils, and caramelized onions. Do try it – it’s perfect for dinner at home but special enough for guests.


¼ C. dry green lentils (1/3 C. cooked)
¼ C. dry chickpeas (1/2 C. cooked)
4 TBSP. virgin olive oil
3 small Spanish onions, sliced (1 ½ C.)
2 tsps. sugar
salt & pepper
1 TBSP. lemon juice
½ C. long-grain rice
¼ C. orzo
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped*
1 TBSP. ground cumin**
1 tsp. Turkish red pepper or ground red pepper
2 C. chicken stock
¼ C. coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley

Soak the chickpeas overnight. The next day, drain them and bring them to a boil in 2 C. of water along with ½ tsp. salt. Simmer for about 45 minutes until tender. Add more water during cooking if necessary. *This can be done a day ahead or early in the morning.

In a separate pot, cook the dried lentils in about 1 ½ C. of water, just until tender. Set aside.

In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add sliced onions, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cover the pan and cook about 5 minutes, until the onions are tender. Uncover the pan, increase the heat to high, and stir in lemon juice. Cook, stirring, until onions are browned.

Add the cumin and red pepper and cook another minute or two. Next, add the rice and orzo, and cook about two minutes.
Add the tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas, and stock. Season with salt and pepper, lower heat, and cook, covered, about 20 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed.
Stir in the chopped parsley and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Serve.

*I only used 2 tsps. of cumin because I was worried the flavor would be overwhelming.
**I find American tomatoes to be completely tasteless, regardless of how ripe they may be. I prefer to use whole, canned tomatoes.