Korean Sesame Spinach

Have you ever had Korean barbeque, and tried all the small dishes that come along with it? This spinach, which can be served hot or cold, is one of my favorites. I came across this recipe in Koreatown: A Cookbook, and had to try it. It’s pretty simple to make, and so delicious. Today I had it warm, over rice, with sliced avocado and edamame.

Here’s what you need:

2 pounds spinach or baby spinach (fresh)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Here’s what you do:

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. While waiting, fill a large bowl with an ice bath. When water boils, salt well, add the spinach, and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Quickly drain the spinach, submerge in the ice bath, then drain again. Squeeze to remove the excess water.

2. Whisk together the remaining ingredients. Stir well into the spinach. Eat hot or cold.

Enjoy!

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Baked Eggplant and Orzo Casserole

This recipe originated with Yotam Ottolenghi, was then modified by Smitten Kitchen, and modified a bit more by me here. It’s chock full of veggies and really flavorful. Enjoy!

Here’s what you need:

1 large eggplant, cut into 3/4 inch cubes

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and 1/4 inch diced

1 rib of celery, 1/4 inch diced

1 red onion, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1.5 cups orzo, rinsed

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1.5 cups vegetable broth

zest of one lemon

2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped (or another favorite herb)

5 ounces smoked mozzarella, or firm buffalo mozzarella, cut into 1/3 inch dice

3 medium tomatoes, or about 21 grape tomatoes, diced

Here’s what you do:

1. Place the diced eggplant in a colander. Toss generously with salt and allow to sit for about 30minutes. Prepare all the other ingredients while waiting.

2. At the end of 30 minutes, rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Add the olive oil to an oven safe pot and heat over medium high. Add the eggplant and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Move the eggplant to a plate lined with paper towels, using a slotted spoon.

3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

4. Add the carrots and celery to the pot. (Add some cooking spray or a bit more olive oil if needed.) Cook for 3 minutes.

5. Add the onions and garlic to the celery and carrots, and cook for another 5 minutes.

6. Stir in the orzo and tomato paste, and cook another 2 minutes.

7. Remove from the heat, and stir in lemon zest, oregano, cheese, tomatoes, a teaspoon of salt, and some grinds of pepper.

8. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes, removing the cover at 20 minutes for a crispier top or at 30 minutes for a softer top.

Enjoy!

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Best Broccoli Cheese Soup

Simon has been really into soup, and recently discovered the broccoli cheese soup at Subway. Wanting to eat a lot of veggies myself, I thought I could make some soup at home that was a bit healthier than the Subway version. I turned to my trusty Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook and modified their recipe. Delish!

Here’s what you need:

2 tablespoons butter

2 pounds broccoli, florets chopped into 1-inch pieces, stalks into 1/4 thick pieces

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups milk (I did 2%)

2 cups baby spinach

2 russet potatoes, cooked and cut into chunks (optional)

1.5 cups shredded cheese (I did cheddar, gouda and parmesan)

salt and pepper to taste

Here’s what you do:

1. Heat the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the broccoli, onion, garlic, mustard, and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and broccoli is turning bright green, about 6 minutes.

2. Add 2 cups of broth and the baking soda. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.

3. Add the remaining broth and one cup of milk to the broccoli and bring to a simmer. Stir in spinach and potatoes (if using) and allow to cook for about 1 minute.

4. Place all the cheese in a blender, and add half the soup. Blend until very smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour into a bowl.

5. Blend about 2/3 of the remaining soup (so you keep a few chunks of veggies).

6. Pour all the blended soup back into the Dutch oven. Add the last cup of milk, and bring to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook for another minute or two.

Enjoy!

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Yotam Ottolenghi’s Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

What’s appealing about this cake, besides the fact that it’s a moist, sweet, delicious treat? It uses ingredients readily accessible in your pantry. And my kids loved it!

Here’s what you need:

2 eggs and 1 egg white

1 cup plus two tablespoons white sugar

1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream

5 tablespoons butter, mleted

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

zest from 3 lemons

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3/4 cup powdered sugar

Here’s what you do:

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, and spray with cooking oil.

2. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and sugar on medium-high for about 3 minutes, until they get light and fluffy. Then add the yogurt/sour cream, and mix on medium for another minute or two until fully incorporated.

3. In a separate bowl, stir the poppy seeds and lemon zest into the melted butter. Set aside.

4. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

5. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Then fold in the butter/poppy/lemon mixture.

6. Pour the batter into the pan, and bake for 55-65 minutes, until the center is set.

7. While the cake is baking, make the glaze by whisking the powdered sugar and lemon juice together.

8. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, pour the glaze on top and spread evenly around. 30 minutes later, remove the cake from the pan. Eat warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy!

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Peanut Curry Slow Cooker Ribs

If you are looking for something super easy to make, and really delicious (my boys loved this), then try this recipe!

Here’s what you need:

1 slab of pork ribs (about 2.5-4 pounds)

2 teaspoons onion powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon ginger powder

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1.5 teaspoons curry powder

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 cup water

Here’s what you do:

1. Cut the ribs into three or four chunks so that they fit inside your slow cooker. Remove the membrane from the back if you want.

2. Combine all the remaining ingredients (except the water) in a bag or bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds to soften, and mix well. Then mix the ribs into the peanut butter mixture until they are slathered.

3. Place the ribs into the slow cooker, and add any remaining peanut butter mixture. Pour the water around the ribs.

4. Cook the ribs on the low setting for 9 hours, so they are falling off the bone. If you are around, change the order of the ribs (which chunk is on top versus the bottom) a couple of times.

5. When the slow cooker is done, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the ribs on a baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes. Then set the broiler to high, spread some of the extra peanut butter sauce on top and broil about 3 more minutes.

Enjoy!

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Sesame Oil French Bread (with a bread maker)

Sorry, another bread recipe. Dough made in the bread machine, the rest in the oven. This is so delicious!

Here’s what you need:

1.5 cups room temperature water

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon white sugar

1.5 teaspoons salt

3 1/4 cups bread flour

1.5 teaspoons bread machine/active dry yeast

Here’s what you do:

1. Add all the ingredients, in the order listed above, to your bread machine. Set the bread machine to the “dough” setting and let it make the dough.

2. When the bread machine is done, lightly flour a surface and turn the very sticky dough onto the surface. Cover with a bowl and let sit for 20 minutes.

3. Split the dough into two pieces, and form into two 3 x 14 inch ovals. (You might have to flour your hands a bit.) Place each one on parchment paper or a lightly floured cookie sheet, and score the top with three slits. Cover with towels.

4. Allow the loaves to rise for another 40 minutes, preheating your oven to 425 degrees halfway through.

5. Right before baking, remove the towel, rescore the loaf, and bake on the cookie sheet on the middle rack for 25 minutes. (I baked mine one at a time so the second loaf got an extra bit of rise time, which didn’t impact quality either way.) Remove, cool, slice and enjoy!

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Banana Sandwich Bread – In the Bread Maker/Machine

Recently, I thought making bread would be fun. The first recipe I tried, a no-knead focaccia, turned out great. The second, a maple buttermilk loaf, was a heavy, gummy mess that went straight from the oven to the trash can. And so, I realized that the chemistry of bread is a bit frustrating when you put a lot of time and effort and ingredients into something only fit for the trash. Thus, I decided maybe I should try a bread maker. Today, I made my third loaf. They honestly keep getting better. I got this recipe from the King Arthur Flour website, and never want to forget it.

Here’s what you need:

1 cup milk, lukewarm

2 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces, at room temp

3/4 cup chopped bananas (I used half of a very ripe banana, and half of a small, just yellow banana)

2 tablespoons honey

3 1/3 cups bread flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 teaspoons yeast

Note: There were nuances to these ingredients that eluded me. I love to cook, but baking has never been my strongest suit, and the world of bread chemistry is new to me. That being said, for the tips and hints, here’s the link to the original recipe (King Arthur’s Yeasted Banana Sandwich Bread).

Here’s what you do:

1. Put all the ingredients into your bread maker, in the order listed.

2. Set your bread maker to basic/standard/white. Size is medium. Darkness should be medium.

3. Turn it on. Let it do it’s thing.

4. Remove and enjoy. Great with some peanut butter.

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Spanakopita Pie (with or without lamb)

Thanks to Costco, I had 2.5 pounds of spinach, and two 16-ounce blocks of feta in my fridge. And all I could think was SPANAKOPITA. But really, who has the time to layer phyllo dough? Instead, I came up with more of a casserole dish. The bottom is rice, with a nice brown crust thanks to the inclusion of plain yogurt, and the top is a thick layer of the filling in a spanakopita because really, that’s the best part. And in the one I made, there’s an intervening layer of ground lamb in half, for the meat eaters in my house.

Here’s what you need:

For the rice crust:

2 cups of dry rice (I did basmati)

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 glug olive oil

salt to taste

For the spinach layer:

1 yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt & pepper

about 2 pounds of spinach

1 block of feta (mine was 16 ounces)

the equivalent of 1.5 to 2 bunches of the following fresh herbs: cilantro, parsley, and dill, chopped well with the stems

2 eggs

For the lamb layer (if you want it):

1/2 yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 pound ground lamb

salt & pepper

For the top of the pie: 1/2 cup parmesan cheese or mozzarella cheese (optional)

Here’s what you do:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. For the rice crust: Cook the rice per the directions or in a rice cooker. Then, in a cast iron skillet, mix together the rice, yogurt, olive oil, and salt. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Spread the rice in a nice layer in the bottom of the skillet and pat down.

3. For the spinach layer:

a. In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium/high heat, and add the onions and garlic. Cook until they start to become fragrant and slightly translucent, a few minutes.

b. In batches, add the spinach to the onion mixture. Toss around with tongs until the spinach wilts. Then transfer to a large bowl, leaving any excess liquid in the pan. Continue until all the spinach is cooked. Make sure all the spinach and onions go in the bowl, and toss the excess liquid.

c. Add the feta and herbs to the bowl. Stir well together. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed. (You probably won’t need much because the feta is nice and salty.)

d. Add the eggs to the spinach, and stir to combine.

4. For the lamb layer:

a. In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium/high heat, and add the onions and garlic. Season with salt. Cook until they start to become fragrant and slightly translucent, a few minutes.

b. Add the lamb to the pan, increase to high heat, and cook, breaking up the lamb, until it is cooked through.

5. To make the pie:

a. If you are doing a lamb layer, spread the lamb evenly over the rice.

b. Then, spread the spinach evenly over the rice and/or lamb.

c. Sprinkle the top with the parmesan cheese, and cover tightly with foil.

d. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

e. Uncover, and bake in the oven another 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

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Oven-Roasted Tomato and Feta Pasta

I came across this recipe in a roundabout way, even though it took most of the rest of the world by storm. On a quarterly basis, the CEO of our company holds an update meeting. At the end, he and other execs were asked about something fun they’ve been doing. He mentioned trying new recipes with his family at home, and that his daughter recently cooked the TikTok pasta that made it impossible to find feta. I had no idea what he meant, but did some research, and discovered an oven-roasted feta and tomato pasta recipe. I played with it a bit, made it last night, and could not stop eating it.

Here’s what you need:

4-6 cups cherry tomatoes, or mini heirlooms, halved

2-3 shallots, peeled and quartered, or, 1/4 yellow onion, cut in a few pieces

5 cloves garlic, peeled and slightly smashed with the flat side of a knife

1/2 cup good or decent olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

one block of feta (I used a 16 ounce piece of the Tnuva feta sold at Costco in double packs)

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 pound pasta, cooked al dente, plus 1/2 cup reserved pasta water

Optional: fresh basil, lemon zest

Here’s what you do:

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a skillet, combine the tomatoes, shallot/onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and most of the olive oil. Stir to combine. Place the block of feta on top, then drizzle the remaining olive oil on the feta. Sprinkle the basil over the feta and tomatoes.

3. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, turning at 20 minutes, until tomatoes are bubbly and feta is turning golden brown.

4. In the meantime, cook your pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.

5. When the tomatoes/feta are done cooking, remove the skillet from the oven and lightly break up the feta with a spoon. Add the reserved pasta water and pasta to the feta/tomato mixture, and stir to combine. Top with fresh basil, or stir in some lemon zest, or just enjoy as is.

Enjoy!

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Cheesy Leek Rice

Recipe adapted from Taste.

Here’s what you need:

3-4 large leeks

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/4 cup paella rice, or, risotto rice (aka Arborio)

1/2 cup white wine

4 cups broth or stock

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, or other herb of your choice (optional)

3 cups shredded gouda, fontina, gruyere, or a combination

4 eggs (or 2 whole eggs and two egg whites)

salt and pepper

Here’s what you do:

1. Trim the ends off the leeks. Remove any not great outer leaves. Then, cut the leeks in half, separating green from white. Starting with the green ends, cut in half lengthwise, and then cut into 1/4 inch half moons. Submerse in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes to allow all the grit to fall away.

2. In an ovenproof pot with a lid, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Drain the green leek pieces and add them to the pot, season with salt, cover, and allow to cook for five minutes.

3. While the green leeks are cooking, prep the whites the same way. (Cut in half lengthwise, then in 1/4 in pieces, then soak in water.)

4. Add the white leek pieces to the green, stir, re-cover the pot, and cook another 5 minutes.

5. Remove the lid, turn the heat to high, and continue to cook until most of the leeks’ water has evaporated. Add the rice, and stir, allowing to toast for 1-3 minutes.

6. Add the wine, stir, and allow to simmer for a minute or two.

7. Add the broth/stock and herbs (if using), stir, cover and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat to maintain the simmer. Keep the pot covered, and cook about 5-7 minutes, until most broth has been absorbed.

8. Stir in 2 cups of the cheese. Taste, and season with salt and pepper.

9. Then, beat the eggs, and quickly pour about 1/5 of the egg volume into a little well before it closes in on itself again. Turn down the heat, cover the pan, and allow to continue cooking until eggs are set and liquid absorbed (about 10 minutes).

10. Turn the broiler to high. Uncover, sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top of the rice, and place the pan in the broiler about 5 minutes, checking ever minute or two.

When the top is bubbly and browning, remove and enjoy!

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