Recipe: Orecchiette with broccoli raab and Italian sausage

This recipe is a quick, tasty way to squeeze in some extra servings of dark greens. It’s inspired by a favorite dish of mine at Teatro, a cute little Italian restaurant near the Boston Common. Think of the pasta and the sausage as delicious garnishes, as opposed to the main stars of the dish.

Makes 6 small servings or 4 large ones


  • 8oz orecchiette, uncooked
  • 2 large bunches broccoli raab, about 1.5-2 lbs
  • 1/2 pound spicy Italian sausage (I love the ones from Whole Foods, made on-site)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 6 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt


  1. Get a large stockpot full of salted water boiling.
  2. Cut broccoli raab into 1.5 inch pieces.
  3. Cut sausage meat out of the casing. Using your hands, separate into small bits. Cook over medium heat until no longer pink.
  4. Turn the heat under the meat to low and add red pepper flakes and garlic. Cook gently for about a minute or two, until garlic is fragrant but not burnt.
  5. Cook orecchiette in boiling water. Check the box to see how long it will take to cook it to your preferred doneness, then set the timer for 3 minutes less than that.
  6. Once your timer goes off, add in the broccoli raab to the stockpot and stir. While the broccoli raab is cooking, scoop out and set aside about a cup and a half of pasta water. Continue to cook for 3 minutes, and drain.
  7. Scoop the sausage mixture, the drained orecchiete, and the broccoli raab into the stockpot, add a few grinds of fresh black pepper, and mix well. Sprinkle in parmesan. Drizzle in pasta water and mix to thin the sauce to your desired consistency.

Recipe: Crab cakes with garlicky aïoli

We’ve spent this new year’s eve in, both recouping from week-long trips – me from the Caribbean, and R from his parents’ home. Our favorite thing to do for NYE are bubblies and hors d’oeuvres. We usually choose two per person; this year, R chose potato skins and a cheese ball, and I chose his garlic-parmesan crostini and crab cakes.

Crabs, one of my favorite seafood items, are not the easiest (nor the best) to come by in Boston, the regional crustacean of choice being lobster. The crab cakes I’ve had in the area are usually dense pucks of bready stuffing, similar to what would be used for baked haddock, with stringy bits of crab mixed in throughout. I’ve always dreamed of making crab cakes with decadent, juicy chunks of crabmeat, with just the right amount of flavorful binder needed to hold them together, and without Old Bay seasoning, which I am not fond of. For New Year’s Eve, I’ve decided to splurge on a nice can of crab meat to give it a try, and it was worth every bit.

The recipe makes a good amount of aïoli, but there’s so many delicious ways to use aïoli that you may even consider doubling the recipe! It is tasty with thin fries, frittata, Spanish omelette, raw or roasted vegetables, potato or chicken salad, roasted potatoes, deviled eggs, crostini, or as a sandwich spread.

Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence and Serious Eats


Crab cakes (makes about 6 cakes)

  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil + another 1/4 cup, more as needed for frying
  • 1 lb super lump crab meat
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I used dried dinner rolls and processed until fine in my mini food processor)
  • 3 tbsp garlic aïoli
  • 2 egg whites
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Aïoli (makes about 1 cup)

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper



Aïoli (do this first)

  1. Using a stick blender, blend the egg yolks. This is an absolute must to have the dressing emulsify.
  2. While the stick blender is going, add the oils SLOWLY in a thin stream, little bit at a time. This is an absolute must, otherwise the aïoli will not thicken and will be thin and runny. When you’ve added about half the oil, add in the garlic.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.

Crab cakes

  1. In a small frying pan, saute garlic and onion over medium heat with olive oil, until lightly browned.
  2. Add this and all ingredients (except for crabmeat) in a bowl and mix very well. Adding crab meat in now will break up the nice chunks.
  3. Gently fold in crab meat until just blended, being careful not to break up the lumps any more than necessary.
  4. Shape into 5-6 fat cakes. Place on plate, cover with cling wrap, and chill for at least two hours. Skipping the chilling step will cause the crab cakes to fall apart.
  5. Heat remainder of olive oil in large saute pan, over medium heat. Ensure that there is a generous amount of oil in the pan, at least 1/4 inches. Heat until oil shimmers. Cook crab cakes, about 3 minutes on each side.
  6. Serve with aïoli.

Recipe: Gooey butter cookies

I had the good fortune of encountering gooey butter cookies when I went to R’s family home for Christmas break last year. I generally don’t have a sweet tooth, but once I tried one of these babies, it took every ounce of self control not to nibble down the entire box of them. R’s mother has generously shared the recipe, and I’ve been enjoying these heavenly cookies to my heart’s content in the privacy of my own home  🙂

Makes about 30 cookies


  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened (Neufchatel or light cream cheese will NOT work!)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar


  1. Mix all ingredients together. Dough will be too sticky to handle at this point, so place in fridge for about an hour or so.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Roll dough into balls, about 1.5 inches in diameter. Roll each cookie ball in powdered sugar and place on parchment paper, evenly spaced.
  5. Bake for about 10-12 minutes. Cookie will still be light-colored and very soft. Take parchment paper off the rack and cool on cooling racks. The last bit is very important, otherwise the cookies will continue to cook, dry out, and not be very gooey.

Recipe: Beef and barley soup

It’s a cold and rainy Sunday here in Boston today, thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Matthew making its way up north. I’m making cozy at home, candles lit, sipping fresh apple cider, oven-drying the last batch of garden tomatoes, and getting a big pot of my favorite beef and barley soup going on the stove.

This soup is hearty comfort food, which also happens to be really healthy as well. We live on this soup during the cold months, which is the majority of the year in Boston. It’s full of protein and fiber, made with only whole ingredients, and easy to whip up. Most importantly, we both can’t get enough of it. It’s unbelievable how flavorful the broth gets, considering it is made with plain water, without any bouillon or stock. I make a big pot of this on the weekend for quick weekday dinners and R’s work lunches while lazing around or getting laundry going.

Adapted from Skinnytaste

Makes about 6 servings


  • 1.5 lb beef stew meat
  • 1.5 cup onions, chopped finely
  • 1.5 cup carrots, diced
  • 4 garlic, minced
  • 7 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup barley


  1. Over medium heat in a dutch oven (I used 3.5 quart), lightly brown the beef just until no longer pink. Don’t worry about crowding the pan. Do not sear, like you would do for braises or beef stew to enhance flavor, or the beef will be too tough.
  2. Remove meat and saute onions, carrots, and garlic for a couple minutes. No need to soften the vegetables.
  3. Add the beef back in and pour in the water. Add bay leaves, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil.
  4. Bring down to a slow simmer and cover. Cook for 1.5-2 hours until beef is fork-tender.
  5. Add barley and bring back to a simmer. Cook for an additional 30 minutes.
  6. Serve. I like mine with dashes of Aleppo pepper flakes.

Recipe: Chicken biryani (Indian chicken and rice)

For the longest time, I held an incorrect preconception that biryani is too difficult to bother with at home. However, once you get the hang of it, it is about as involved as making your own meat sauce and putting together a lasagna with it. I can honestly say that the most cumbersome part was making the trek out to Central Square to obtain Indian spices!

R is usually extremely disciplined about not taking second helpings, but today he specifically requested this for dinner and ate an unprecedented three servings. Try it for yourself!

Adapted from Cooking the Globe


Fried onions

  •  3 onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Chicken Marinade

  • 1 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut in half
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 4 serrano chilis
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2″ piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp cayenne
  • 1.5 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric


  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken up
  • 6 green cardamom pods, bashed with a wooden spoon


  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • Plenty of salt

Finishing touches

  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp onion-infused oil (from your fried onions)
  • 3 tbsp water


  1. Marinate the chicken.
    1. Combine all marinade ingredients, except for chicken and greek yogurt, in a mini food processor, and process until minced fine.
    2. Mix into yogurt and add chicken.
    3. Marinate in the fridge for 3 hours.
  2. Soak the rice.
    1. Soak rice in a large bowl with plenty of water for about an hour.
  3. Make fried onions.
    1. Heat oil over medium heat in a saute pan, until the back of a wooden spoon dipped in the oil starts bubbling within three seconds.
    2. Fry onions until golden brown.
    3. Scoop out onions with slotted spoons onto a paper towel lined plate.
  4. Boil the rice. 
    1. Drain rice from its soaking water.
    2. Get a large pot of water boiling and add the rice. Be sure to salt water until it is as salty as ocean-water; otherwise, the biryani will be bland.
    3. Boil rice for 7 minutes and drain.
  5. Make a quick chicken curry.
    1. Use same pan that was used for the fried onions. Preserve all but 3 tbsp of onion-infused oil in a glass container.
    2. Toss in all spices in the curry ingredient list and cook for about a minute.
    3. Add chicken with all the marinade and allow to come to a simmer.
    4. Add tomatoes, and allow to come to a simmer and cook for about 13 minutes.
    5. Scoop out the chicken and cook down the gravy for about 7 minutes.
    6. Remove from heat and add chicken back in.
  6. Assemble and cook.
    1. Take a 3.5-quart dutch oven or similar heavy-bottomed, lidded cooking vessel. Add 2 tbsp of onion-infused oil and water at the bottom.
    2. Add 1/3 of the rice.
    3. Layer with 1/2 of the curry.
    4. Top with 1/2 of fried onions.
    5. Repeat steps 2-4.
    6. Finish layering with the rest of the rice. Drizzle melted butter on top.
    7. Place lid on top, and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes.
  7. Fluff the biryani and serve!



Recipe: Indian red onion chutney

I adore this chutney. This is the lovely red-colored onion condiment that many Indian places serve with pappadums or leave on the table in a jar with a small spoon. Indian food eaten at restaurants is pretty heavy stuff, whipped up with generous quantities of cream and butter, compared to home-made. This tart and savory chutney serves as an excellent foil to cut the heaviness… that is, on your palate, not your waistline…

For many years I’ve used a recipe that used tomato paste. It was tasty, but the texture and flavor was not quite right. This recipe that a redditor received from her Indian sister-in-law is much more closer to the real deal. Apparently there are regional variations in the recipes used to make this onion chutney at Indian restaurants in the US, so your mileage may vary in terms of similarity with your favorite place.

Load up your curry with this goodness. It is the perfect accompaniment to chicken tikka masala or butter chicken. It goes nicely with saag paneer as well! I’ve also read some fun ideas for this chutney, such as using it as a cracker dip or blending it with cream cheese to make bagel spread.

Adapted from a posting on this thread


  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely (red or yellow are both fine)
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin


  1. Mix all ingredients together. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

Recipe: Cold Hot Toddy

Lately, early mornings in Boston have been feeling brisk. Fall is around the corner, and some nasty bug is going around in the office. However, it’s still a toasty 85F in the afternoon, far too hot for my usual go-to for colds, a hot toddy. Once I got a roast chicken going in the oven (with the intention of using the carcass for congee – another sick day favorite), I gave a cold version of a hot toddy a shot, and it came out quite tasty! I’ve heard some nonsense about how bourbon is dehydrating and therefore not good for someone with a cold,  but where’s the fun in that? 🙂

Makes ~2 servings, depending on the amount of ice and water


  • A handful of ice cubes
  • Enough water to get the blender going
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 1 large lemon, peeled
  • 1 piece of ginger, the size of your thumb


  1. Blend until you achieve desired consistency. Try a taste and adjust to taste. This came out quite tart, which I enjoy.

Recipe: Gazpacho Seville

Gazpacho brings back fond memories. It reminds me of sitting in my friend’s sunny porch in Coolidge Corner after work one summer afternoon, sipping cilantro-grape gazpacho with vodka martinis. It also makes me think of a lazy afternoon meal we had in the Albayzín last year, with hills of homey white building and the bluest blue sky as backdrop, itinerant musicians playing pretty tunes.

Unfortunately, the gazpachos themselves in those happy moments did not impress. I thought myself not a fan and never considered making some myself, until we had a large volume of excellent produce from R’s garden that needed to be used up quickly. I wanted to try out my new Vitamix that came in a couple days ago, so decided to give this NYT recipe a whirl. I was pretty impressed at how tasty this was! I think the magic was in the high quality produce, since gazpacho is a simple dish that allows each ingredient to shine. I’m really looking forward to more batches of this with the rest of our garden tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapenos, and onions coming in the next few weeks!

Recipe adapted from the New York Times


  • 2 pounds well-ripened tomatoes (I did not chop or core)
  • 2 cloves large garlic
  • 1 jalapeno (seeded and white membranes remo.ved, leave in if you like it spicy)
  • 1 persian/english cucumber, about 8 inches long (peeled)
  • 1 small onion (peeled)
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 2 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


  1. Throw all the produce in a blender and blend until very smooth. Since I used this beast of a mixer, I left all the produce whole. For other blenders, it might be good to chop up the vegetables some.
  2. Turn down the mixer to a low speed. While the blender is still running, pour in the vinegar and salt. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil in a thin stream until the gazpacho is emulsified and creamy-looking, a bit like salad dressing. Add pepper to taste.
  3. Store in a glass pitcher and chill for at least 6 hours, ideally overnight.

Recipe: Shrimp yaki udon a la Wagamama

One of my favorite work lunch is yaki (stir-fried) soba at Wagamama. I really am not a fan of their broth based ramens, but this I could eat daily if possible! I order it with udon substituted for soba noodles and with shrimp only. I recently came across their official recipe and gave it a whirl. It came out very similar to the version at the restaurant!

Chicken may also be used with or without the shrimp. Use one thinly sliced chicken breast or thigh and add in with bell peppers.

Recipe adapted from Wagamama’s website

Makes two large servings



  • 3.5 oz light soy sauce (I used green Kikkoman)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce (I used red Kikkoman)


  • Two 8 oz blocks of frozen udon
  • 6 oz shrimp, peeled
  • 1 small onion, cut in half and sliced thinly
  • Large handful beansprouts
  • 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and sliced thinly
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil


  1. Put all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, and simmer over low heat for about 8 minutes.
  2. Cook udon according to package. Use salted water for added flavor. Be sure to preserve a little cooking water and drain.
  3. Put onion, beansprouts, shrimp, and udon in a large bowl and toss with the finished sauce.
  4. Heat a large saute pan over high heat until droplets of water sizzles. Add oil and cook peppers for about 3 minutes. Do not disturb too frequently, so that the peppers get a bit of nice char.
  5. Add the noodles and veggies in the large bowl to the saute pan. Stir constantly, otherwise it will stick like nobody’s business. Do this for about 3 minutes.Thin it out a bit with reserved water if it looks too dry.
  6. Add the eggs and stir fry for another minute or so.

Recipe: Meatloaf

I’m currently working on cutting down on the amount of refined carbs and increasing protein intake, in order to get some energy boost after work to fuel my workouts and study sessions for my credentialing exams (first one is tomorrow – eek!). Having to squeeze into a bathing suit for our upcoming Dominican Republic trip is also a good incentive as well…

I’ve been looking around for a meatloaf recipe that does not call for bread or breadcrumbs as binders. This one I’ve found in a Betty Crocker cookbook calls for quick-cooking oats, which adds some nice fiber and even more protein to the beef.

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker Cookbook


  • 1 lb 85% lean beef
  • 1/2 cup finely minced onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 tbsp
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup ketchup


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Add all ingredients EXCEPT KETCHUP into mixing bowl and mix well. Shape into a loaf and put in a 8 x 5 loaf pan. Note that the loaf pan won’t be completely filled.
  3. Coat top of meatloaf with ketchup.
  4. Bake for about 1 hr 20 mins, or until meatloaf is cooked to an internal temperature of 160F.