Sunday, December 27, 2020

Sev Nachos

 Among the most ingenious ways to transform chickpea flour is to extrude it through a brass device used in India to make sev – a kind of fried noodle that goes into a variety of dishes. There are various other machines that will work just as well, a small hand-held noodle extruder, a ricer and even a cookie press with a perforated die. Here I have obviously desecrated a revered snack food, but it is so remarkably delicious, I implore you to try it.

  • 1 c chickpea flour
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Water (less than ¼ cup)
  • 2 inches of vegetable oil in a pan

  • 1 ounce mozzarella
  • 1 Roma tomato
  • 2 tbs sour cream
  • ¼ c fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbs milk
  • 1/8 tsp of salt


Mix the first 6 ingredients and add just enough water so it becomes a stiff dough. If necessary add a little more chickpea flour and form into a cylinder with your hands. Slide it into your press. There is no need to oil it, your hands, or anything. Now heat your oil in the pan. To test take a tiny bit of the dough and put it in the hot oil. See if it floats up. If it sinks and no bubbles form, it’s not hot enough, if it browns quickly, it’s too hot. Adjust heat accordingly. Then put the plunger in your extruder and turn the crank directly over the oil, filling the whole pan with noodles. With a pair of metal skewers, start turning them over. Cook on both sides about 5 minutes or until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon or strainer and place on paper towels to cool.


Then arrange on a baking sheet covered with tin foil, sprinkle on the cheese and the tomato, chopped. Place in a toaster oven at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted. While that is heating, mix the sour cream, chopped cilantro and salt, thin with milk until it’s pourable. Take the nachos out of the oven a drizzle with the sour cream mixture. Be forwarned: it’s awfully messy, but there’s no other way to eat it but with your fingers.


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Boyos (Sephardic Rolls with Rabe and Feta)

“My grandma was the best cook ever!” says anyone who has ever been interested in cooking and eating. I say the same thing myself. For years I have been trying to replicate her recipes from memory. She died when I was 13, so it’s mostly guesswork. One of these is boyos – a kind of round roll with spinach and feta filling. There were also other fillings, like onion and egg, ground beef too. I recall vividly one day exclaiming how much I liked them, so whenever I saw her, she would have made dozens just for me, to put in the freezer and have for breakfast every day. In all honesty, they were a bit dense and since she was Mediterranean at heart, she poured olive oil on top. My father would become incensed; he liked them fine without oil, but she insisted.

After a little sleuthing I found that boyoz, as they are spelled in Turkey, are still made in the city of Izmir (Smyrna) where my grandmother’s family came from, and they are still associated with the Sephardic Jewish community. Of course the name is bollo – and they come originally from Spain. They are often unfilled in Turkey and are made of a pulled filo dough, light like a croissant. Nothing like my grandmother’s.

So with this recipe I thought about how much better they would be light and flaky, so I made a simple yeasted and laminated croissant-like dough with butter. I also used broccoli rabe instead of spinach, because the oxalic acid in the latter strips the enamel off my teeth and makes them feel chalky. And because rabe is the best vegetable on earth, period. Use a good creamy feta too, ideally from Bulgaria, but French feta can be great too.   


1 c pastry flour
1/8 tsp sea salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1/3 c water, plus a little more for kneading
6 tbs salted butter
1 bunch broccoli rabe
3 tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
6 oz feta cheese
1 egg
1 tsp each black and white sesame seeds


Mix the flour, salt, yeast and water and knead for about 10 minutes, keeping your hands wet with extra water (rather than dry with flour). Place pats of the cold butter on a sheet of plastic wrap and put another sheet on top. Roll it out into a thin square. Roll out the dough on a large wooden board, this time floured. Remove the top sheet of plastic from the butter and set it directly on the dough; then remove the other sheet. Fold the dough over the butter like a book and roll out. Repeat folding over and rolling out 4 or 5 times more, wrap the dough in the plastic and let rest in the fridge for an hour.

Chop the broccoli rabe, discarding the thick ends of the stems. Fry in the oil and season with salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring now and then, for about 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and place in a bowl to cool. Then crumble in the feta and add ¾ of the egg. Mix well. And set aside until the dough is finished resting in the fridge.

Roll out the dough on a floured board. Cut into four pieces. Place the filling in the center of each piece and fold over the sides, encasing the filling. Then turn them over, so the top is smooth. Brush with the remaining egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Then heat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the boyos for 10 minutes and then lower the heat to 350 and cook another 20 minutes until browned. Eat them hot, for breakfast of course. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Recipe Testing

How to do Recipe Testing

First get on your sturdy hiking shoes and a good hat and a little blue backpack from Disney Word with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit on it. Set out early, but not too much before stores open. Head north. Don’t forget your earbuds. Prepare to spend about 4 hours listening to Trout Fishing in America, which will lull your brain into a state of hypnosis. This will help you focus on the recipe at hand, still as yet unimagined. Drop into a little party supply store that is almost always closed, and for no good reason buy a few 3-inch tinned brioche molds for $2.40 each. Keep going north. Stop in the famous San Francisco Boudin Bakery chain, which you haven’t been in for about a decade, when your son was taking guitar lessons and the other son wanted clam chowder in a sourdough bowl. Buy some sourdough and wonder, as always, how that the particular lactobacillus strain can survive the heat of Stockton. Keep walking north. Imagine stuffing the bread into the brioche molds. Pick up some vodka (best to plan ahead) and put it in Oswald. Buy some olive oil, the last drop of which you used last night. The backpack will begin to sag by now. Richard Brautigan will make you say Trout Fishing in America when the person at the cash register asks if this is credit or debit. When you finally get home, cut the sourdough into thin three-inch rounds with crust all around. Butter every surface, including the sides, your hands, and the top of your head. Suddenly remember that although you have no trout, there are chunks of salmon, well salted, strewn with dill and splashed with Linie Aquavit, which is better than any other because it has crossed the equator. Unlike the salmon, who only went upstream. But they didn’t have a ship, which is why they die after spawning. The people who bring Linie Aquavit across the equator, they do not die after spawning. Squish your buttered bread, but not your head, into the brioche molds and fill with a few nubbins of cured salmon. Nibble on the salmon, then remember that you put the vodka in the freezer and make a drink with lime, sugar and lime-flavored seltzer so you can bear out the 15 minutes you arbitrarily decide will be the time this recipe takes to bake. Preheat the toaster oven. Crack and egg, add a pinch of salt and pour into the molds. Whisk the brioche molds into the toaster oven and sip your cocktail. When the bell goes off, remove them, take a few pictures and pry them out of the molds and take a few more. Eat the whatchamacallits with your cocktail. Oh just call them Trout Fishing in America. Mayonaise.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Idli with Almond Butter and Persimmon Chutney

Were I to tell you that this recipe is highly reminiscent of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you probably wouldn’t believe me, but it’s true. Idli, from Southern India, are soft cakey rounds that are oddly like white bread but pleasantly sour and made entirely from fermented rice and beans. Almond butter is more nuanced than peanut but either would work well, and the chutney is infinitely more vibrant than jelly. Combining these ingredients also came to me entirely serendipitously. About a decade ago I planted a little persimmon tree at the corner of my house, where it received next to no light and even less water. I vaguely remembered it was there, but it never bore fruit and never grew. This past season we trimmed back nearby trees and fixed the sprinkler. I happened to be poking around in front of the house mid October, and what do you know? Three gorgeous fuyu persimmons, crisp and sweet and ready to go on the idli I had just steamed for breakfast.

In terms of cost, I bought a large bag of basmati rice for $5.99 and beans $2.99. To make the idli batter, I used about a dollar’s worth of rice and 50 cents for the beans. The almond butter was already in the cabinet and the persimmon, free. So breakfast for me, just a cup of the batter, of which I had about 7 cups, so that means this cost 21 cents. I tested it a few times to get the cooking time right, so let’s be fair and say 63 cents to test and 25 cents for the other ingredients – a shallot and a few raisins, a spoon of almond butter. Eminently affordable, unusual, and quick. The only thing you need to start ahead of time is the batter, but it takes very little effort.


2 c basmati rice

½ c urad dahl (tiny white black gram beans with the outer coating removed – not lentils)

Spring water or filtered tap water

½ tbs butter

1 tbs almond butter

   Put the rice in one large bowl and the beans in another. Barely cover each with water. Cover with a dish cloth and allow them to ferment for 2 days. Next put them together in a blender and process until smooth and the consistency of cream. Return to the larger bowl and cover. Let ferment another two days, stirring a few times each day. Don’t be alarmed by any errant aromas the bowl may emit. It cannot go bad. It’s simply adjusting to your house and the lactobacilli are multiplying, fending off other bacteria. At this point it should be frothy and thick and resembles whipped egg whites. If your house is hot it may go quicker and the opposite if cold.

Then generously butter a small bowl about 4 inches in diameter and pour in some batter, about half way up. Place the bowl into a steamer and cook for 12 minutes. A smaller bowl will take a little less time, larger more. Remove from the steamer and let cool for a few minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter to loosen the idli and turn out onto a board. Slice the idli horizontally so you have a top and bottom, like a little bun. Spread the almond butter on one side.


Persimmon Chutney

2 tbs neutral oil

1 small shallot

1 knob of ginger

1 small fuyu persimmon

About 20 golden raisins

1 tbs vinegar

    When you put your idli in to steam, peel and chop the shallot and start to cook gently in the oil. Peel the ginger with a spoon, slice and dice finely, then add to the pan. Chop the persimmon finely and add. Likewise chop the raisins and add them. Splash with vinegar. Ideally this should be cooked just enough by the time your idli are done, about 12 minutes. Or let cook a few minutes longer if necessary. Put a good dollop of the chutney on top of the almond butter, close and serve up, just as you would a PB&J sandwich.



Friday, October 2, 2020

It's a Wrap

 I am fairly committed to writing a book about breakfast now. This very simple, quick and easy dish I made this morning has me excited to send out a proposal and get the ball rolling. I'm up to 16 recipes in the past few weeks, pretty much one a day. Well, here's a sample: 

The Thanksgiving Wrap

1 flat bread, home made or store-bought flour tortilla
2 tbs chevre
1 tbs umeboshi plum paste, found in a Japanese grocery
¼ c walnuts, crushed
1 tsp unrefined sugar
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
3 slices leftover turkey or roasted turkey cold cuts
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tbs walnut oil
Pinch of salt
Handful of baby spinach

Warm the flatbread over an open flame. Then spread with the chevre and squirt on the umeboshi paste. This is a stand in for cranberry sauce, it’s more sour, salty and sits in the wrap better. Spread it around evenly. Heat the crushed walnuts in a nonstick pan with the sugar and salt and cinnamon, stirring constantly and being careful not to let burn. Transfer to a plate to cool. Then sprinkle on the flatbread. Add the slices of turkey. In a small bowl mix the vinegar, syrup, oil and salt to form a dressing. Add in the spinach and mix with your hands. Then transfer to the flatbread. Roll up the bread tightly, cut on the diagonal and serve at once. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Salt Cod Fritters with Romesco and Escarole


Makes one dozen fritters

1 lb box of bacalão (salt cod)

2 tbs olive oil

¼ c heavy cream

½ c dry fino sherry

1 c okonomiyaki flour or regular pancake mix, plus more if necessary for a very thick batter

1 tbs lard or butter


2 large red peppers                                                    

½ cup toasted almonds, crushed                      

2 cloves garlic

¼ c olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 head of escarole

2 tbs olive oil

Salt to taste

Dabs of mayonnaise

1 thinly sliced small hot red chili pepper

 Soak the bacalão in water for 24 hours in the fridge, changing the water often. Sauté it gently in olive oil until it begins to fall apart, then transfer to a bowl. Add the cream and the sherry and mix until the fish has broken up completely. Then add the okonomiyaki flour. With your hands roll the batter into a dozen small balls and fry in a pan with hemispherical depressions such as an abelskiver or Takoyaki pan, or simply fry in a regular nonstick pan. Fry until golden brown and then transfer to a rack to cool.

Place the red peppers directly on the gas burner or grill and turn frequently until completely charred. Place in a large paper bag until cool. Scrape off the char with a knife, do not rinse, remove the seeds and core, and chop the pepper finely. Place in a pan with the garlic and olive oil and cook gently until soft. Add salt. Then transfer to a mortar and pound until it becomes a chunky sauce.

Chop the escarole and sauté in the oil until tender. Add salt to taste while cooking.

To serve arrange the fritters on a plate with the sauce and the escarole on the side. Garnish with the mayonnaise and slivers of chili pepper.


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Jello Drinks to Beat Summer Heat


When the heat lingers for weeks on end, these Southeast Asian inspired jello drinks are seriously refreshing. The dark one is grass jelly cubes in white vermouth and sweetened condensed milk. The green is a pandan mung bean noodle in ice cold sake, also with sweetened condensed milk. I'm not sure why jello is so cooling in this form, but it sure is.  

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Gelatin Ice Vodka and Tonic

 This was a fun little trick. Very pure gelatin, sugar and a little phosphate for the acid. Made into gelatin cubes, plopped into a vodka and tonic. And instead of the hard ice hitting your teeth, it's a squishy chewy gel cube. Delicious and refreshing too. 

Monday, May 4, 2020

Tomatillo Tequila Jello in Tamago Spring Roll

Have you ever considered how many cultures roll things up in starch or a bread-based wrapper? Burritos and spring rolls presumably have no real connection, but the flavors inside and the way they’re eaten are so similar. A good example of convergent evolution, two distinct species move toward the same solution, though unrelated. Like humming birds and bees sipping nectar from flowers. I decided to throw in another rolled favorite of mine. Though I seriously thought about shredded turkey or cabbage leaves, egg just seemed perfect and in terms of flavor, I think I was right.

6 tomatillos, husk removed
2 whole serrano chilies
2 tbs olive oil
½ c tequila
1 tbs unflavored gelatin

1 egg
½ tsp dashi stock
2 spring roll wrappers
A little chopped cilantro
Slivers of carrot
Lime or tomato for garnish

In a pan or on a comal toast the tomatillos and chilies with a little oil until charred and soft. Remove stems from chilies and put in a blender with tomatillos and ½ c water and a teaspoon of salt. Blend until smooth. Then fry the mixture in the pan with residual oil. Set aside in a bowl.
Mix the tequila with the gelatin in a small pot, add ½ cup of the tomatillo sauce and gently heat until it barely comes to a boil. Pour into a greased square casserole pan and put in the refrigerator to set.
Mix the egg and dashi stock and cook in a large frying pan with a tiny bit of oil. Swirl it around so you have one very thin layer of cooked egg. Let cool on a large plate.
Unmold the jello on top of the egg. Roll both into a cigar shape and cut in two, trimming the ends if necessary. Moisten two spring roll wrappers with hot water and place on a board or plate. Sprinkle on cilantro and carrot. Place the cylinders of jello inside, fold in the sides and wrap up tightly. Chill again until firm.
Then cut each on the bias and arrange on a plate with garnish of lime or tomato or whatever you like. It doesn’t need a dipping sauce because the mole verde is already inside. It’s spicy, crunchy, chewy, and refreshing, all at the same time.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Bullshot Jello, Marrowbone Shortbread with Pickled Lemon

The bullshot is a classic mid-century cocktail but gained a certain popularity in the 1980s. For some reason I picture Tom Cruise ordering it in a bar. As a cocktail it’s pleasantly savory but strange enough that you won’t want to sip too much. As a jello it replicates the smooth creaminess of roasted marrow without being quite as unctuous. Scooped onto the shortbread with a dab of the lemon, it’s a marvel.

3 four-Inch sawed marrow bone tubes
1 tsp powdered gelatin
¾ c vodka
¾ c home-made beef stock (see recipe)
1 cup flour or more
1 tsp crushed fennel seed
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp sugar
1 pickled meyer lemon*

Briefly blanch the bones in boiling water. Remove from water and push out the interior marrow fat with a small knife into a small pot. Simmer the fat on very low heat until melted. Boil the hollow bones about 15 minutes to clean and scrape off any connective tissue on the exterior. Strain the melted fat though a small sieve and reserve.
Carve down three champagne corks to plug the bottom hole of the bones and so each will stand upright. Be sure they are very tight or they will leak. If you have doubts, dribble a little hot candle wax into the bottom of each. Then dissolve the gelatin in the vodka for 10 minutes and bring the stock to the boil. I have deliberately used very little gelatin to keep the final jello soft. Mix the two liquids. Arrange the bones upright in a container so they don’t spill and pour in the hot gelatin, move to the refrigerator until set.
Mix the flour, marrow fat, fennel and salt into a short crust pastry with just enough cold water to bring everything together. Roll out ½ inch thick onto a square of parchment paper and cut into long rectangles. Back about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Arrange everything on a wooden board and naturally increase the recipe if you are serving guests.
*Pickled lemons are very easy to make but take a long time. Cut the unwaxed lemons into rounds, and arrange in a jar sprinkling salt on each layer. Cover with lemon juice and make sure everything is submerged. Cover and wait one year. The lemons will be soft and exquisitely perfumed as a condiment. You can add any spices you like. Eat them peel and all.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Purple Haze Jello

The world is a different place since I last posted. I have been making jello nonetheless. This is a mung bean noodle laced with purple butterfly pea flower. A ratio of 1 tsp to a cup of starch. Boiling water was added to make a dough, then that was extruded into a pot of boiling water to make noodles. Those were set in a combination or rum, lime juice and gelatin, turned out and then garnished with mango slices and smoked paprika. We need something sunny now, right? 

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Rabbit Braised in Homemade Mead

The pictures describe this experiment well. I took a pound jar of local unpasteurized honey, added two times the amount of water and pitched in about 1/2 tsp of yeast (intended for beer). Waited two weeks and it became pleasantly effervescent. Filtered that. Nice and clear and only a hint of residual sweetness. Then browned some rabbit pieces in butter, added mushrooms and whole shallots, and braised it in the mead. A few pieces were eaten for dinner and the rest was taken off the bones and put in a container in the fridge wherein it solidified as an aspic. Bunny jello if you will. Luscious!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Sherry Raspberry Jello Blinz Recipe


2 tbs unflavored gelatin
2 c Hartley and Gibson Fino Sherry
1 tbs raspberry jelly without seeds
2 tbs cream cheese
2 tbs cottage cheese
4 tbs powdered sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
8 crushed amaretti
lemon zest

Bloom gelatin in 1/2 c sherry and add jelly. Bring remaining sherry to a boil and add to the mixture. Let cool, pour into two large teflon pans to create jello crepes. Mix cheeses and sugar and extract and spread on the jello. Carefully roll jello around cheeses and move toa  plate. Garnish with crushed amaretti and lemon zest.