Brussel Sprouts, Apple, and Pomegranate Salad


I haven’t posted on the blog for a while because I was traveling. Steve and I celebrated New Year’s eve in Lisbon with out friends. We ate bacalao (salt cod) cooked with potatoes and eggs, pasteis de nata (the ubiquitous Portuguese egg tarts), and drank lots of vinho verde wine. We listened to fado music in a neighborhood restaurant, where the owners, a husband who cooked and wife who served us, both sang for us and brought us to tears with emotion.

We then went to Paris where we spent time with friends and observed the tail end of the latest Parisian food fad: hot dogs. Yes, hot dogs. Last year it was bagels, the year before it was cupcakes, and before them it was burgers. Despite the fascination with the worst of American cuisine, I’m happy to report that the food scene in Paris is thriving, with countless little restaurants offering home-cooked, delicious meals everywhere.

Before coming back to New York I went to Cyprus for a week to visit my family and a day after I arrived I was struck with a nasty case of stomach flu that pretty much destroyed my appetite, so I didn’t get to enjoy my mom’s cooking as much as I would have liked.

By the time I came back home, after being away for almost four weeks, I was craving simple and familiar food. My body demanded salads and grilled chicken. This brussel sprout salad with apples and pomegranate will soothe any travel-weary stomach. We made it for the first time last Thanksgiving and we loved it. It’s fresh and sweet-tart with a satisfying crunch. It holds well in the fridge so you can make it in advance or store left overs for next day’s meal.


Brussel Sprouts, Apple, and Pomegranate Salad – Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 4-6


1/2 large red onion, diced small
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons ground sumac
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to season salad
2 cups shredded brussels sprouts (you can shred them with a food processor or thinly slice them with a sharp knife)
1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (from about 1/2 a large one)
1/2 a large peeled apple, cored and diced
Juice of half a lemon, plus more to taste
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup toasted, cooled walnuts, lightly crushed or coarsely chopped
Aleppo pepper (or ground chipotle chile pepper, urfa biber peppers, hot smoked paprika or another chile flake) to taste


Make the sumac-pickled onions: Combine red onion, wine vinegar, sumac and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a small bowl and set aside while you prepare the other ingredients, or ideally at least 15 minutes.

Combine all salad ingredients, including red onions and their pickling liquid, in a medium bowl and season to taste with salt and red pepper. Taste and adjust ingredients as desired.

This salad can be prepped ahead, but keep the dressing off of it until at most an hour before serving so it doesn’t discolor the sprouts.

Charlie Bird’s Farro Salad


There is a time of day when Provincetown becomes magical. As the sun sets behind the town’s houses and gradually changes colors, it illuminates the harbor. The water, dotted with little boats, becomes a palate of teal blue and tangerine orange, while the sky goes from bubblegum pink to ruby red before letting darkness take over. When you are standing on the deck of a restaurant or a bar, or walking along the cool sand, and watching this live painting take shape in front of your eyes, you understand why so many painters and other artists have flocked to this little enclave for decades. Resting at the tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown has beckoned to everyone from Eugene O’Neill to Jackson Pollock to Michael Cunningham and they have found inspiration here to produce some of the best work.DSC05240

For decades, Provincetown has been called an “artist colony”, which for a long time also served as a veiled euphemism for what Ptown (as it’s also know) really is: a gay town. This is a place where gay men and women have felt safe and welcome even before they did so anywhere else in the country. It’s a town where couples of same sex (as well as couples of opposite sex) can display affection publicly without any reproach or fear of being attacked. Where drag queens are a constant sight on the main street that runs along the town and families with children will be eating lunch next to a group of leather-clad bears like it’s an everyday occurrence.

Provincetown is one of my favorite places on earth. That’s where we spent a week this August, as our last summer vacation before the beginning of the fall and work taking over. It was, as always, a wonderfully relaxing, yet exciting six days, doing nothing but walking around, eating and drinking, and enjoying the beauty of the town (as well as dancing for two hours to nothing by Madonna music at the famous Boat Slip tea dance on a Wednesday afternoon).

It’s never easy to say goodbye to summer. It makes me understand why people pack up and move to Los Angeles or Florida. But I try to remind myself that even after Labor Day is gone, we’ll have weeks of beautiful weather that’s even better than some of the unbearably hot days in August. And to stay in a summer mood, we’ll eat “summery” foods, like this farro salad that I first tasted when our friend Greg made it while we were on Fire Island (another “artist colony”) for a weekend earlier this summer. I loved it so much, that we’ve already had it at least four more times in the last couple of months. It’s incredibly flavorful and the chewy farro and crunchy pistachios give it a substance that makes it sufficient as a dinner main dish. Take advantage of the late season basil and make this today. I plan to make it year round, substituting what’s out of season with something that is. And when I eat it, I will think of next summer when I’ll be back at Provincetown, watching the sunset.DSC05258

Charlie Bird’s Farro Salad – Slightly adapted from the New York Times

Note: For a vegan version, omit the parmesan cheese or substitute it with vegan cheese or some nutritional yeast.


1 cup farro
1 cup apple cider or apple juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
2 bay leaves
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
70 grams Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler (about 1/2 cup)
70 grams chopped pistachio nuts (about 1/2 cup)
2 cups arugula leaves
1 cup basil leaves, torn
1 cup mint leaves
¾ cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
⅓ cup thinly sliced radish
Maldon or other flaky sea salt, for finishing


In a medium saucepan, bring farro, apple cider, salt, bay leaves and 2 cups water to a simmer. Simmer until farro is tender, about 30 minutes. If all the liquid evaporates before the farro is done, add more water. Let farro cool, then discard bay leaves.

In a salad bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Add arugula, herbs, tomatoes, and radish and toss well. Add cheese and pistachio nuts and toss lightly. Sprinkle flaky salt to taste and serve immediately.

Vegan Chocolate Banana Muffins


Our friend Lisa visited us from Florida last weekend. She’s my formerly omnivore friend who became vegan and broke my heart (though, of course, I still love her to death). We have been friends since our college days and we hung out over the weekend with yet another college friend, Brad, who lives in NY with his partner Denny. Even though we’ve known each other for 23 years, we still never run out of things to talk about. On Saturday, we took the train to the New York Botanic Gardens to see the cherry trees but we were a little too early. The majority of them were still bare, though a few were in full bloom, resplendent in pink and white flowers. We walked around, took pictures and then hopped in a cab to go back to our apartment for Mai Tais and dinner.DSC05041

With everyone’s help in the kitchen, I prepared a full vegan meal that ended up being very satisfying, even for the non-vegans among us. I started us off with crispy broccoli in black vinegar and then served a sweet potato, kohlrabi, and peanut stew, topped with some Korean gochujang paste and crushed peanuts. We finished with freshly baked vegan chocolate chip cookies. I tried the recipe from Ovenly for the first time and though we ended up eating two cookies each, I will just say that I will stick with my favorite non-vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe in the future.

But the real hit was breakfast. I saw this recipe for vegan chocolate banana muffins many months ago on Chocolate & Zucchini and saved it for Lisa’s next visit. I finally made them last Friday and we ate them throughout the weekend. I can’t believe I’m going to say this about a vegan baked good, but these muffins are amazing! They are just dense enough that they feel substantial and not cake-y, but they are delightfully moist and tender. The flavor is pure banana and chocolate, along with some deeper notes from the coconut sugar that I added to the recipe. And the turbinado sugar on top adds a playful crunch to each bite. Altogether, they are really irresistible.

Vegan Chocolate Banana Muffins – Adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini


130 grams (1 cup) all-purpose flour
130 grams (1 cup) rice flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
50 grams (1/4 cup) white sugar
100 grams (1/2 cup) coconut sugar
150 grams (5 1/3 ounces) good-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
3 very ripe bananas, (about 350 grams or 3/4 pound without the skin)
60 ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
60 ml (1/4 cup) virgin and unrefined coconut oil
2 tablespoons brandy or cognac (substitute with apple juice if you do not want to use alcohol)
1/4 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar for topping


Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 12-muffin muffin pan with muffin liners (or lightly grease and flour the muffin pan).

In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, salt, sugars, and chopped chocolate. Stir well to combine. Set aside. In a second medium bowl, use a fork to mash the bananas with the oils, brandy/cognac, and vinegar until thoroughly combined.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry ones and use a spatula to mix together until no trace of flour remains, without overmixing.

Scoop into the muffin molds, and sprinkle the tops with the turbinado sugar. Bake for 30 minutes, until the tops are nicely browned. Let cool on a rack before serving.

Almond and Macadamia Nut Milk


Steve approaches cooking a little differently than I do. While for me, cooking can be a creative endeavor, an almost meditative exercise, for Steve it’s often approached as a fun project. Since he works a lot more hours than I do, he doesn’t cook very often, but when he does, it’s for something new or interesting in some way, something that caught his eye online because of the unusual technique it uses or the unique ingredients it combines.

So it was, that when he read an article in the New York Times titled “The Best Iced Latte in America?” he immediately identified a project he wanted to tackle: making the almond and macadamia nut milk that is the main ingredient of said “best iced latte in America.” And so we went shopping for the ingredients (blanched almonds, macadamia nuts, and dates) and went about making our first batch. In our haste, we failed to taste the macadamia nuts, which were quite rancid, resulting in not-the-best iced latte in America.

Undaunted, a few weeks later Steve wanted to try again. This time we tried the nuts and they were fresh. The nut milk came out smooth and fresh and ever so slightly sweetened by the dates. It’s not hard to make, but it is a project. And how was the iced latte? Pretty great. Best in America? Not really sure.

Almond and Macadamia Nut Milk – From the New York Times

Note: When we made this the second time, we used a nut bag, as the recipe suggests, but the milk ended up too gritty. We strained it again through two layers of cheesecloth and it was perfect. So, opt for the cheesecloth if you can.


1 generous cup/150 grams blanched almonds
½ cup/50 grams macadamia nuts
⅓ cup/40 grams pitted dates
1 liter filtered water


1. Combine almonds, macadamia nuts and dates in a large lidded plastic container. Add filtered water, cover, and let soak overnight at room temperature, at least 12 hours.

2. Using a blender set to the highest speed, process mixture for 3 to 4 minutes or until finely puréed. Strain the mixture through a nut bag or jelly bag into a bowl, squeezing hard until only solids remain. (Or set a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and line with two layers of cheesecloth. Use a spatula to force the mixture through the lined sieve, then repeat the process using fresh cheesecloth.) The nut milk should be silky and creamy, not gritty. Milk will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days. Shake before using.

To make an iced almond-macadamia milk latte, combine 8 ounces of the chilled nut milk, a double shot of hot espresso and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake for about 30 seconds, then strain into a chilled glass with fresh ice.

Roasted Sunchokes with Orange, Rosemary, and Pine Nuts


Yesterday was the first day of spring, and here in New York city we got…more snow. Yep, as I am writing this post, I am watching a furious swirl of wet snowflakes covering the oh-so-recently snow-free ground. I can almost hear them: You thought you could get rid of us that easily? <insert evil laugh here>

Nothing describes the absurdity of this winter better than this quote from today’s New York Times: “Snow starts around noon, as temperatures hover just above freezing, and roughs up the evening commute. At 6:46 p.m., spring begins, the snow stops abruptly and twittering robins drape the city with garlands of daffodils.” Steve and I laughed heartily when we read this and then we stopped laughing and each shed a single tear for the loss of our meteorological innocence.

What can I say? Prolonged and brutal winters can make you a little crazy.

So, just give up on the weather and simply eat and drink to your heart’s delight. To help you with that, here’s an easy recipe for an appetizer that you can make with things you can find right now in your grocery store. Sunchokes are also known as Jerusalem artichokes, for reasons that I can’t fathom, since they are closer to potatoes and carrots than artichokes. In any case, they crisp up in the oven really nicely and they pair very well with toasted pine nuts, orange, and rosemary. A hint of balsamic vinegar adds an additional note of acidity and the final dash of aleppo pepper gives it that unexpected smoky heat that draws you in for one more bite. 

DSC03877Roasted Sunchokes with Orange, Rosemary and Pine Nuts

Makes 4 appetizer servings


1/4 cup pine nuts
1 lb sunchokes (jerusalem artichokes), washed and scrubbed clean
2 cloves garlic, peeled and slides in thin slices (about 2mm each)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 orange
2 teaspoons of good balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon aleppo pepper


Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a sauté pan, toast the pine nuts over medium heat, tossing frequently, until they give off a toasted smell and they just start to turn golden brown. Immediately remove into a plate and allow to cool.

Slice sunchokes crosswise into 1/4″-1/2″ slices. In a large bowl, toss sunchoke slices with the garlic, rosemary, olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Spread on two large baking sheets, so that all sunchoke slices are lying flat on the pan. Make sure that all garlic slices are on top of sunchoke slices, otherwise they will burn. Roast in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, without turning, until the bottoms of the slices turn dark brown, but don’t burn. The tops will stay yellow and become soft.

Meanwhile, peel orange and slice crosswise in four 1/2″ slices (there will be some orange left over). Place each slice in the bottom of an individual serving bowl.

Once sunchokes are roasted, pile them on top of the four orange slices. Top with roasted pine nuts, balsamic vinegar, and aleppo pepper, divided among the four bowls. Serve immediately


Miso-Glazed Turnips


I started learning English when I was 8 years old. My parents enrolled me in after-school lessons that took place at a private high school called The English School. In my first two years there, my teachers spoke Greek, so they would explain things that we learned in a language we understood. Towards the end of my second year, though, I found out that starting the following year, my teachers would only speak English. I was terrified. How would they be able to explain things to me? It took one lesson that following year to ease my fears. I hadn’t realized that I had already learned enough English to be able to communicate with the teacher.


One day, our exercise revolved around a fairy tale called “The Enormous Turnip.” It’s an old Russian fable of a farmer who plants a turnip that grows so large that he can’t pull it out of the ground. He calls his wife to help and then progressively more and more people and animals come to help them pull it out. It’s not until the tiny mouse joins them that they are able to finally pull the turnip out of the ground.

We read the story in class and we all had one question: What the hell is a turnip? We had never seen or eaten one. There wasn’t even a Greek word for it. The teacher struggled to explain that it was a root vegetable like a carrot but round and purple-white. It took a couple of decades for me to finally eat a turnip and when I did, I loved it.

Its pungent, almost medicinal smell is tempered by a sweetness that is especially brought out by roasting it or sautéing it. This recipe is simple but it creates a really flavorful side dish that can accompany either meat or seafood.

turnipMiso-Glazed Turnips – Slightly adapted from Bon Appétit


1 pound small turnips, trimmed, scrubbed, cut into 1” wedges (peeled or unpeeled)
2 tablespoons white miso
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sugar
¾ cup water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Combine turnips, miso, butter, sugar and water in a medium skillet.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook turnips, turning occasionally, until they are tender and liquid is evaporated.

Once all the liquid has cooked off, keep cooking turnips, tossing occasionally, until they are golden brown and caramelized and the sauce thickens and glazes the vegetables, about 5 minutes longer.

Add lemon juice and a splash of water to pan and swirl to coat turnips. Season with salt and pepper.

Sweet Potato, Kohlrabi, and Peanut Stew


Over the last couple of years, our diet has slowly shifted away from meat. At first, our meals featured chicken a lot more than red meat. At some point, I found myself ordering fish from Fresh Direct and Good Eggs more and more often, until I cooked some kind of seafood at least three times a week. And in the last few months, I have found myself making a completely vegetarian meal for us at least once a week, sometimes twice. It helps that we have access to great vegetables from both local farmers (thank you Good Eggs and farmers’ markets) and far away ones (thank you Whole Foods and Fresh Direct).

Our go-to vegetarian meal has been my mom’s lentil recipe (sometimes with the addition of a little smoked fish, so…vegetarianish). But I have also cooked beans a few times, boiled in water with potatoes and carrots, that we ate with lots of olive oil and lemon juice (my favorite bean dish as a kid). So for Christmas, I gave Steve a 5lb box of five different kinds of dried beans from Rancho Gordo (isn’t it such a romantic gift? <insert fart joke here>). I’ve been cooking beans once a week since then, experimenting with different ways of preparing them.


Today’s recipe does not have beens in it, but it’s vegetarian. In fact, it’s vegan. It’s the result of needing to use up a bunch of veggies I bought in preparation for the giant snowstorm that never came last week. I had leeks, kohlrabi, and sweet potatoes. Not an obvious combination of ingredients. For some reason, however, I remembered a stew I used to make many years ago, that was based on a West African dish made with peanuts. I no longer had that recipe but I figured I could make one up myself. And I did. The result was a thick, rich, vegetarian stew that was perfect for a cold winter night. And a nice addition to our list of vegetarian meals.

DSC03745Sweet Potato, Kohlrabi, and Peanut Stew

Note: I’ve noticed that some people have identified that this is a paleo recipe as well, though I thought that peanuts were not paleo. In any case, if you are a paleo enthusiast but you still eat peanuts, this is for you.

Makes 5-6 servings


2 tablespoons olive oil
3 leeks, dark green parts discarded, white parts sliced thinly crosswise
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon paprika
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 cups vegetable stock
2 medium sized kohlrabi, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
1 14oz can of dice tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup natural-style (no sugar added) peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
1/2 cup basmati or jasmine rice
hot sauce (optional)


Place peanut butter in a medium-sized heat-proof bowl and set aside.

In a large heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add leeks and sauté stirring frequently until soft, about 5 minutes. Add cinnamon, paprika, and garlic. Continue to cook, stirring constantly for about 30-45 seconds. Add stock, kohlrabi, potato, tomatoes with their juices, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium-low, cover pot and cook for 10 minutes.

Uncover pot and add some of the hot liquid in the bowl with the peanut butter. Use a spoon or whisk to help the peanut butter dissolve. Pour dissolved peanut butter back into pot and add rice. Raise heat to medium-high and bring back to a low boil. Lower heat to medium-low and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until rice and potatoes are fully cooked (kohlrabi will still have a slight crunch). Adjust salt if necessary. Remove and discard bay leaves.

Serve immediately, topped with your favorite hot sauce.