Muhammara 2

(from Better Homes & Gardens, February 2020 – chef Reem Assil in Oakland CA, Syrian-Lebanese)


2 C roasted red bell peppers, drained
1 cup walnuts, raw
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 T lemon juice
1 T pomegranate molasses
1 1/2 t ground Aleppo pepper
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t kosher salt, plus more as desired
1/4 C olive oil

Combine peppers, walnuts and garlic in a food processor , process untill smooth, about 3 mins.
Add all the rest of the ingredients, except the olive oil, and process till smooth, about 2 mins.
Turn off processor and scrape down sides of the bowl.
With processor on, add the olive oil slowly, process till oil is completely incorporated.
Taste and add salt as needed

Makes 2 Cups. Serve with bread or cut veggies.

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Seafood Paella

Adapted from Seafood Paella and saffron Aioli in NYTimes by Alice Hart


3 T olive oil
1 1/2 medium onions, diced
4 large plum tomatoes, halved (Can substitute 28-oz can of peeled whole tomatoes)
2 med red bell peppers, cored and diced
2 bay leaves
1 t sweet paprika
3 C fish or chicken stock, unsalted
1 – 1 1/2 t kosher salt
1 1/2 C medium grain or short grain paella rice (same as 2 “cups,” if using the “cup” that came with rice cooker. These “cups” are 3/4 of a true measuring cup)
1 C green peas (fresh or frozen)
12 oz catfish nuggets
12 oz peeled raw shrimp
1 1/2 lbs mussels or clams
3 T chopped parsley
lemon wedges for serving, if desired


  • In a large deep-sided frying pan or paella pan with a lid, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  • Saute chopped onions until soft and golden, about 15 mins.
  • In the meantime coarsely grate the tomatoes, cut side down, until only the skin remains. Discard the skins. There should be about 1 1/2 C. if using the canned tomatoes, fish the whole tomatoes out finely chop them. should have about 2 cups, other wise add juice to make 2 cups.
  • Stir in the tomatoes, peppers, bay leaves and paprika into the onions. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until no liquid remains, about 15 mins.
  • Add the stock, salt, bring to a boil. Add rice. Stir and simmer 10 min. Stir occasionally. There should be some liquid remaining.
  • Add the peas and all the seafood and stir and incorporate into the rice. Simmer until all liquid has disappeared, stirring occasionally about 10mins. Add little amounts of water while stirring, if rice getting too dry or sticking and burning.
  • Cover with lid, remove pan from heat and rest for 5-10 mins.
  • Scatter with parsley  Serve, with lemon wedges if preferred.


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Ginger Garlic Green Beans Salad


1 lb green beans, trimmed
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T soy sauce
1 T grated peeled ginger
2 t rice vinegar
2 t canola oil or avocado oil
1 t sesame oil
1 1/2 t sesame seeds, toasted


Bring  1 1/2 qts (6 C) water to a boil. Add 1 t salt.
Add green beans. After water returns to a boil, cook for 1 minute.
Drain beans well, then plunge into an ice bath to stop cooking.
Drain beans and pat dry.
Meanwhile mix all other ingredients in a big bowl.
Add green beans and toss well.
Toss intermittently, while allowing the beans to sit for at least an hour.
Sprinkle beans with sesame seeds prior to serving.





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Cold Soba Noodle Salad


8 Servings

  • 1/2 package (from 14 ounce box) 
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups baby spinach or arugula
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup julienne-cut red bell pepper
  • 2 green onions, green part only, thinly sliced


  1. Prepare noodles according to package instructions. Rinse with cold water. Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, mix vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, oil and sesame seeds in small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Place noodles in large bowl. Add lettuce, carrot and red bell pepper; toss to mix well. Divide noodle salad among serving plates. Sprinkle with onions. Drizzle with dressing. Serve immediately.
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How to prevent cakes from sticking to Bundt pans

1. If it ain’t broke…
If you use your grandma’s beat-up old aluminum pan (or a brand new top-of-the-line model), and your Bundt cakes ALWAYS come out of the pan with nary a crumb out of place — thank your lucky stars! Read the rest of this post if you feel like having a self-satisfied chuckle, but don’t change a thing in your Bundt-baking routine.
2. Use a non-stick pan — preferably one in good shape

Non-stick pans are the perfect solution to the inherent challenges in a Bundt cake’s intricate design. But beware the older non-stick pan: a scratched, worn non-stick surface may no longer be slick enough to release your cake flawlessly.

3. Grease the pan thoroughly

Use non-stick vegetable oil spray or melted shortening — not butter. The milk solids in butter can act like glue, encouraging cake batter to stick to the pan. (You always butter your pan, and your cake never sticks? See tip #1, above).

4. Grease the pan just prior to adding the batter
Most recipes start out, “Preheat your oven. Grease your pan…” We’ve found that greasing a non-stick Bundt pan too far ahead of time allows the oil to slide down the inside of the pan and pool in the bottom.

5. Don’t flour the pan; but do coat it

If you’re using a non-stick pan and still having trouble with sticking Bundts, try sprinkling a coating of either finely ground nut flour (that’s toasted almond flour on the left) or granulated sugar into the greased pan before adding the batter. Either will provide a barrier between batter and pan — which is what you’re seeking.
“But isn’t sugar sticky?” Yes, it becomes sticky as it cools; and it can act like glue when fully cooled. But while warm, sugar is still semi-liquid, and your sugar-coated cake should slide right out of the pan.
What about flour?
Not only does flour sometimes provide a less-than-satisfactory non-stick experience, it also adds a dry layer of “gunk” to the cake’s surface. I prefer either sugar or finely ground nuts (nut flour).

6. Loosen the edges of the cake when you remove it from the oven

A bit of gentle poking with a table knife or thin heatproof spatula is all you need to do. Carefully slide the knife or spatula down the sides of the pan as far as you can, to release any sticking spots.

7.Don’t forget the tube 

Sometimes your cake may rise up and over the tube, which will effectively block it from releasing from the pan. Either cut away any extra cake that’s encroached on the tube; or gently push it back with your fingers. You want the entire top surface of the tube to show.

8. Let the hot cake rest for a few minutes

If your cake breaks when you turn it out of the pan, you could be misinterpreting the cause. Some cakes are extremely fragile right out of the oven; even if they don’t stick to the pan, the simple act of moving them from pan to rack causes a fracture.

I like to let my Bundt cakes rest for about 5 minutes right side up; then for another 5 minutes upside down on a rack. Sometimes the cake drops out of the pan as soon as I turn the pan onto the rack. Sometimes it needs a little help — read on.

9. Give your Bundt a gentle nudge

If you’ve turned the pan over, waited, and the cake hasn’t dropped out of the pan onto the rack, give it a few gentle side-to-side jiggles. This small motion is often enough to release it.

10. If all else fails…

Return your cake to the cooling (but still warm) oven for about 10 minutes. Often this mild heat is just enough to soften and release any baked-on areas clinging to the sides of the pan.

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Apple Tartlets

1 box Pillsbury pie crusts
4 large Granny Smith Apples
2 C homemade thick applesauce
1 C homemade thick apple butter
1/4 C + 1/4 C sugar
2 t + 1T lemon juice
3 T brandy
2 pinches salt
3 T unsalted butter, melted
1/2 C apricot (or any light colored homemade) jam heated and strained

Place applesauce, apple butter, 1/4 C sugar, 2t lemon juice, brandy and salt in a small pot over low heat, stir and reduce, to thicken as much as possible without burning. Cool completely.
Place 10 4-inch mini tart pans on a baking sheet.
Roll out pie crusts to thickness between 1/8 and 1/4″.
Cut out 10  4.75″ rounds. Press dough into bottoms and up sides of tart pans. Trim excess dough flush with the rims. Scraps can be rerolled and cut as needed.
Refrigerate 20 min.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. (350 deg convection oven).
Peel, core and slice apples very thin, so that the outer edges are thicker than the centers. Toss with 1T lemon juice. Drain.

Spread 2 T of apple mixture into each tart shell.
Fan apple slices on top of mixture.
Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with remaining sugar.
Bake tartlets till apples are  golden brown on edges, 50-60 mins.
Brush tops with jam,
Transfer to wire rack and cool slightly before serving.

Makes 12 tartlets



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Mussels in White wine

Adapted from Recipe by Ina Garten


3 lbs of fresh mussels
1/3 C all purpose flour

2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 C of coursely chopped onion
1 1/2 T minced garlic

1/2 C of chopped canned tomatoes or 3/4 C of chopped fresh tomatoes
1/3 C chopped parsley
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1 C dry white wine
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t ground black pepper


To clean the mussels:
Put mussels in a large bowl with 2 Qts of water and the flour and soak for 30 minutes. This promotes the mussels to disgorge any sand  in their shells.
Drain the mussels, remove any beard, scrub with a brush or scrape off with a knife any dirt of growths on the shells. Soak in cold water till ready to put in the pot. Discard any mussel whose shell is not tightly shut.

To cook:
In a large stockpot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat.
Add onions and cook for 5 mins.
Add garlic and cook for about 3 more mins. till garlic golden  and onion translucent.
Add all the other ingredients (except the mussels)  and bring to a boil.
Add the mussels, stir well, cover the pot, cook over medium heat for 3 mins.
Uncover, stir well, cover and cook for 3 more minutes.
Check to make sure mussels are cooked. (The meat will be attached only to one shell and not to both).
Pour into a large bowl and serve!


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