• In a large soup pan, place all ingredients except vinegar and kale. Bring to a boil and simmer covered on medium-low heat for about 30 minutes.

• Add kale and cook until wilted. Turn heat off and mix in vinegar.

Serves 4 as lunch with peasant bread.

Still water is the most satisfying beverage.

Veggie Soup – My Way

1 small bunch frilly kale, stems and center ribs removed (any leafy green vegetable will do, such as Swiss chard or spinach)

8 cups water

salt to taste

2 tbs distilled white vinegar

1 medium onion, in rings

½  Savoy cabbage, cored and sliced thickly

½ package (6 oz) baby carrots

1 red bell peppers, cut-up

15 ounces crushed tomatoes

1 jalapeno pepper, halved and seeded

2 tsp dill seeds

½ tsp fenugreek powder (optional)

3 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

½ cup crushed tomatoes

½ cup diced bell peppers

1 lb green beans

salt to taste

red pepper flakes to taste

1 cup chicken broth (or water), plus more if needed

• Snap off the stem ends of green beans and cut them in half.

• Heat oil in sauce pan. Add onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes, Mix in tomatoes and bell peppers and cook further.

• Add green beans, salt and pepper flakes and pour in the broth. Mix it well and cover pan.

• Cook on low heat for about an hour and more until tender. There should be some liquid left on the bottom of the pan.

Serves two as first course.

Green Beans in Olive Oil


Cauliflower Stew

a medium size onion, chopped

a small amount of vegetable oil

3/4 lb. of ground chuck (ground turkey or chicken may be substituted)

a cup of cilantro leaves, packed and coarsely chopped

a small head of cauliflower, separated into bite size florets

a cup of chopped, canned tomatoes diluted with a cup of water

red pepper flakes and salt to taste

a cup of frozen peas

• sauté the onions in oil

• combine the meat until it loses it's raw color

• add red pepper and salt

  1. mix in cauliflower, cilantro and tomato mixture;

  2. bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes

• add peas during the last 5 minutes of cooking

Serves 2 as main course. Noodles would make a nice first course; pickles go well with the stew.

Recommended wine: Malbec, an Argentine red wine which is softer to the palate then Cabernet. It is characterized with a pronounced plum flavor and an aftertaste of anise.

½-a-head of Napa cabbage, shredded (Savoy cabbage may be substituted)

equal amounts of good olive oil and lemon juice, enough to moisten the cabbage generously

1 teaspoon mashed garlic

salt to taste (no black pepper needed)

½ cup of fresh mint leaves, thorn in pieces

½ cup of pomegranate arils (a.k.a. seeds)

• Fifteen minutes before you serve the salad, add olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt.  Mix it well, and let the cabbage lose its crisp texture.

• Adjust the seasoning (I prefer the salad to taste tart). 

• Right before serving, mix in the mint leaves and sprinkle the pomegranate seeds (if pomegranate is out of season, dried cranberries would be a fitting alternative)

Cabbage Salad

Serve as a first course, followed by a hearty soup, such as minestrone. 

Sparkling water, such as Pellegrino, or a glass of soda -- Ginger Ale,

for example -- would be an appropriate drink.

1 cup lentils

4 cups cold water

1 tbs vinegar

1 cup sliced scallions, green parts included

12 – 15 cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced

curry powder to taste

salt to taste

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves

1 cup plain yogurt

Lentils Indian Style

Serves two. Delicious with crisp red radishes as a luncheon dish.

Beer, such as Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale, is best with this dish. If you insist on wine, my recommendation is to choose a Zinfandel.

1 cup boiled and cubed red beets

1 cup boiled and cubed golden beets

3 cups loosely packed raw baby spinach

1 small shallot, finely chopped

3 tbs good olive oil

1 tbs wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

2 slices haloumi cheese (optional)

Baby Spinach with Beets

Makes a colorful first course. A dry white Riesling from Germany would match this salad nicely.

Serves two 

1 ½ cup of chopped onions

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 cup pre-diced canned tomatoes

(I use Progresso)

A bunch of kale (about 1¼ lb), stemmed, coarsely chopped and blanched

1 can cooked chickpeas (I prefer Goya)

½ cup chicken stock

¼ lb. (or more) Spanish chorizo, sliced

1/3 cup good olive oil

salt to taste

• Sauté onions in oil in a heavy pan on moderate heat until translucent.

• Add tomato and cook for another 3 minutes.

  1. Mix in blanched kale (you may use swiss chard instead) and chick peas, drained. Add enough liquid to keep the meal moist. Continue cooking for an additional 15 minutes with the cover on.

• Add sliced chorizo (or kielbasa, or sujuk, if you want). Drizzle with olive oil, mix the dish and adjust seasonong. Cook on low flame for another 5 minutes, with the cover off.

Serves four

Yummy with crusty bread and a glass of Spanish red wine – Rioja with its vanilla and strawberry notes is particularly good.

Kale with Chickpeas and Sausage

2 cups cooked and cubed chicken at room temperature

1/2 bunch watercress, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup mayonnaise

2 tps soy sauce 

1/2 tps wasabi paste (or to taste)

1/2 cup red bell peppers, cut up

• Mix chicken with watercress.

  1. Mix mayonnaise, soy sauce, and wasabi into a smooth paste.  

  2. Add to chicken mixture and combine well.

• Plate the salad and decorate it with the red pepper.

Serves 2.  Serve with a medium-bodied chardonnay, such as Mâcon-Lugny's "Les Charmes."

Chicken Salad

1 medium-size chicken, cut-up (2 1/2 – 3 lb.)

2 large red-skinned potatoes, in chunks

2 large peeled carrots, in cylinders

2 peeled parsnips, in slices

1 1/2 tsp dill seeds

1 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns

salt to taste

water to cover

1/4 cup or more chives

Chicken in Broth (Hashlama)

Serves four.

Wine or beer would be inappropriate for this meal, as it is already soupy;

a glass of cool water would be just right.

• Place chicken in a pot, add dill seeds, peppercorns and salt, and cover generously with water.

• Bring to a boil, simmer on medium-low fire for about 15 minutes. Add carrots, then potatoes and  parsnips. Continue to simmer for another 30 minutes.

• Let it cool. Remove the bones and skin of the chicken, and return it to the pot.

• Heat it up and serve it with the broth, with chives sprinkled on top.

2 lb peeled and diced butternut squash (ready-made)

5 cups (about) rich chicken stock

1 tbs salt

1 tsp white pepper

½ cup blue cheese

Winter Squash Soup

• Place squash in a heavy pen. Add enough stock to barely cover it.

• Simmer over medium-low heat until very tender, about half-an-hour.

• Place the squash into a blender (in batches, if necessary) with some of the liquid and blend until super smooth.

• Remove it from the blender into the sauce pen and season it with salt and pepper to taste.          

• Adjust the soup to desired consistency by adding the cooking liquid. I like it to be thick  enough to hold its shape in a spoon. 

• Plate it and garnish it with blue cheese. (I recommend English Stilton.)

Serves six. 

Two 6-inch diameter Portobello mushrooms, stems removed

¼ cup or more quality olive oil

Salt to taste

½ cup tomato sauce (store bought, such as Classico brand, or homemade)

1 cup or more grated melting cheese, such as Fontina or Yogurt cheese with jalapeño peppers (my preference)

1 tsp. oregano

Portobello Pizza

• Drizzle a generous quantity of olive oil to drench the gills of the mushrooms thoroughly. Sprinkle them generously with salt.

• Spread out the tomato sauce evenly over the gills.

• Pile up the grated cheese on top of the tomato sauce, dividing it equally. Sprinkle the tops with oregano.

• Place the mushrooms in a tray and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese melts and blushes.

• Serve on a bed of baby lettuce.

Serves two.

A glass of Argentine Malbec (such as Alamos) would be just right. 

Swiss Chard Salad

6 broad white stalks of Swiss chard, cut up (remove green leaves).

You may use celery stalks instead (scrape them first

with a vegetable peeler).

12 - 15 sweet grape tomatoes

1/3 cup whole Italian parsley leaves

¼ cup chopped pitted black olives

fresh garlic to taste, crushed (optional)

salt and black pepper to taste

½ a lemon juice

1 - 2 tbs. good olive oil

• Lightly blanch stalks. Let them cool.

  1. Add tomatoes, parsley, olives, garlic, salt and pepper.

  2. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Mix thoroughly to moisten salad.

Serves two as first course. (Or a single person as a luncheon dish, with toasted country bread.)

A glass of Italian light-bodied Pinot Grigio, crisp and acidic, would be wonderful.

Parsley Salad

½ cup very fine bulghur

1 large bunch curly parsley

4 stems fresh mint

1 plum tomato, cubed small

½ red onions, cubed small

2 - 3 limes, juiced

1/3  cup fruity olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

• Soak bulghur in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain and squeeze dry.

• Stem parsley and mint. Chop very fine in food processor. (Italian parsley doesn’t chop well in processor.)

• Mix bulghur and all vegetables. The salad should look green overall.

• Add lime juice (sometimes I use ver jus – the juice of unripe grapes – available in bottles at high-end stores), olive oil, salt and pepper to the salad. Mix it well.

Serves two.

A cool glass of tahn, (plain yogurt diluted with water to the consistency of heavy cream,

flavored with salt) makes a perfect accompaniment to the tart salad. 

A medium size cauliflower, separated into flowerets

1/3 or more olive oil

1 tsp wasabi paste

1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, cut into rings

2 tbsp capers

½ chopped parsley

Salt and black pepper to taste

• Steam the flowerets until fork-tender and crush them into large pieces with a potato masher.

• Add olive oil with wasabi paste, and let cauliflower cool to room temperature.

• Mix in the olives, capers and parsley. Use salt and pepper to taste.

Serves six as first course.

Delicious with iced tea. (Twinings is now marketing Cold Brewed iced tea bags, which can be prepared in minutes, using cold water. “Mixed Berries” is a favorite.)

Cauliflower Salad

Feta and Figs

10 – 12 figs, both green and black

4 batons (sticks) of feta cheese, preferably French

2 tbsp of good honey

dash of coarsely crushed black peppercorns

• Wash the figs, cut them in half, leaving the skins on.

• Arrange them attractively on a small dish.

Serves two as dessert.

Simply wonderful with a glass of Canadian ice wine.

• Place two pieces of the cheese across from the figs, drizzle the cheese with honey and sprinkle it with a generous portion of peppercorns.

Chicken with Okra

1 medium onion, chopped, 

¼ cup vegetable oil

8 boneless and skinless chicken thighs

1 lb fresh baby okra, the rough skin on the cone trimmed without piercing the pod

½ cup crushed tomatoes 

1 lemon juice

1 cup dried California apricots (optional)

1 tbsp dried basil, 

1 cup or more water

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Sautée onions in oil until barely translucent.

  2. Add seasoned chicken and lightly brown over medium heat on both sides. 

• Mix in tomatoes and water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

  1. Add prepared whole okra, basil and lemon juice.

  2. Bring to a boil and simmer with the cover on over medium-low heat until vegetables are tender

(about half-an hour). Add apricots and adjust seasoning. 

• Let the dish rest, covered. Best served the next day, gently reheated.

Serves four with a side dish of rice.

A glass of California chardonnay would go well with this dish.

Try to get a bottle from a winery located in the Russian River Valley.

Dried Fruit Compote

½ lb pitted prunes

½ lb dried apricots (California, not Turkish)

1 cinnamon stick

2 strips of orange peel

¼ cup sugar

2 cups water

• Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Stir gently, cover and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes longer. Turn heat off.

• Cool it to room temperature, and then refrigerate.

• Take out the cinnamon stick and the orange peels. Serve in compote bowls. Decorate it with a sprig of mint. (You may consider mixing in a small amount of Lillet for added sophistication.)

Serves six.

A butterscotch or oatmeal cookie would be a perfect accompaniment.

Stuffed Eggplants

4 baby Italian eggplants (about a pound total)

2 large onions, halved lengthwise and sliced in crescents

½ cup or more olive oil

8 small whole garlic cloves

½ cup chopped tomatoes

½ cup Italian parsley, coarsely chopped

2 tbsp sugar

juice of ½ large lemon

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup or more water

• Wash the eggplants, cut the stems off and remove three narrow strips of the dark peel lengthwise, creating a striped effect. Cut deep pockets where it’s peeled almost all the way -- there should be about 12 pockets in all -- and panfry the eggplants gently on all sides in enough oil to prevent burning. Salt it and let it cool.   

• Sauté onions on low to medium heat in ¼ cup of the olive oil until cooked, but not browned. Add garlic, chopped tomatoes, parsley, sugar, lemon, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and let it cool.

• Using a small spoon, stuff the slashed pockets generously with the onion mixture. Arrange the eggplants snuggly in a pan and add water half the way up. You may add additional olive oil, if you want to be authentic.

• Spread a sheet of wax paper over the eggplants and cover the pan. Gently bring to a boil, lower the heat and barely simmer the dish until the water is evaporated, for about 45 minutes. There should be oil on the bottom of the pan. Serve at room temperature.

Serve four as appetizer.                                                                                                                                             Red wine goes surprisingly well with eggplant. Try a glass of Australian Shiraz with it.

Russian Salad

1 cup diced boiling potatoes (½ inch cubes)

1 cup diced carrots (½ inch cubes)

1 cup frozen peas

1 lb medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

½ cup (or more) good-quality bottled mayonnaise

juice of ½ large lemon

¼ cup capers and/or gherkins


cherry tomatoes

• In salted water, boil potatoes, carrots and peas until fork tender. Drain and cool them to room temperature.

• Boil shrimp in salted water for a very short time. Cool to room temperature and dice to the same size as the vegetables. (Reserve a few whole to decorate.)

• In a bowl, add lemon juice to mayonnaise and stir until mixture is smooth. Add potatoes, carrots, peas, capers and cut-up shrimp, and fold it gently with rubber spatula. Adjust seasoning.

• Serve in salad plates on a bed of watercress and tomatoes. Decorate with reserved shrimp.

Serves six as first course.

A glass of finely perfumed Pouilly Fumé would be delightful. Its high acidity would cut the creaminess of the mayonnaise.

Steamed Cod with Spinach

2 lb of cod fillet, in four pieces

salt to taste

a sauce made of the juice of 1 lemon, ¼ cup of olive oil and cracked peppercorns

¼ cup of olive oil (additional)

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 lb of tender spinach (not baby spinach), cleaned

Salt the fish. Steam for about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate, cover and let it cool.

• Heat olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add garlic. Do not brown.

• Wash the spinach. Add to frying pan in batches until just limp. Salt to taste.

• Divide drained and cooled spinach in four deep plates. Place fish on spinach. Pour lemon sauce on fish. Serve at room temperature.

Serves four.                                                                                                                       

A pale lager, such as Mexican Corona, served with a slice of lime, would be ideal.


Spicy Hot Walnut Spread

½ cup tomato paste

¼ cup (or more) hot red pepper paste, available at Middle Eastern stores

½ large lemon juice

½ cup good olive oil

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

¼ cup finely chopped dill fronds

2 scallions, both white and green parts, very thinly sliced

• Mix tomato and pepper paste thoroughly and thin it out with lemon juice and olive oil.

• Add remaining ingredients and incorporate. It should have the consistency of mayonnaise. Plate it, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest.

Serve it as a spread on a coarse peasant bread.

A hoppy beer, such as Pilsner Urquell, is a happy accompaniment.

Shepherd’s Salad

4 Persian cucumbers, cubed

1 pint small tomatoes (grape or cherry variety), cut in halves

½ green bell pepper, diced

½ red onion, cut in crescents, macerated in salt and washed

½ cup of fresh mint leaves

½ cup of Thai or regular basil

¼ cup of Moraccan olives, pitted and halved

1 cup of Mozzarella pearls (or cut up Bocconcini)

• Toss together all the ingredients. Add oil and vinegar. Mix thoroughly.

Serves four for lunch. An Italian-style peasant bread would be nice.

A cool yogurt drink, made of diluted plain yogurt to the consistency of heavy cream, is indeed refreshing.

salt and pepper to taste

½ cup of good olive oil

¼ cup of wine vinegar

Peas with Ham

2 packages frozen peas, 10 oz. each

1 cup frozen pearl onions

1 lb to 1 ¼ lb ham steak, cubed

1 red bell pepper, cubed

1 cup fresh dill fronds

3 tbs. butter

salt and black pepper to taste

½ to 1 cup water

• Blanch peas and onions.

• In a deep sided frying pan, sautée peppers and ham briefly in some butter.

  1. Add blanched peas and onions to the frying pan, along with half the dill, rest of the butter and enough water to prevent scorching. Cover and cook on low to medium heat. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste, and mix gently.

• Plate it in deep dishes and strew with remaining dill.

Serves four.

A glass of Pinot Noir (preferably unoaked style) from California, such as Bacchus which is light, fresh and full of berry flavors, would be quite delectable.

Quince Compote

2 large quince, about 2 lbs.

2 cups of water

juice of ½ large lemon

½ cup of sugar

a dozen cloves

• Peel the quince. Cut it into bite size pieces and place in water acidulated with lemon juice. 

• Place quince in a saucepan, add enough of the reserved liquid to barely cover the fruit.

• Mix in the sugar and the cloves. Cover it, bring to a boil and simmer it on low heat for 15 – 20 minutes. Turn the heat off. Let it cool in the pan.

Serves four as dessert.

A sprinkling of pomegranate seeds would make it look festive.

2/3 cup pearl barley

6 cups water

1 tbs dried mint (preferably peppermint)

3 cups yogurt (at room temperature)

1 jumbo egg

salt to taste

3 tbs butter

1 tsp paprika (hot or sweet)

• Place barley and water in a pot; bring to a boil.

• Lower the flame; add the mint. Cover the pan partially. When barley is tender (about 50 minutes), turn the heat off.

• In a separate container, stir beaten egg into the yogurt. Temper it by adding part of the barley broth into the yogurt and stir well. Empty the yogurt mixture back into the pot.

• On very slow heat, keep stirring the soup until hot. Never let it come to a boil. Add the salt according to taste. Divide it into heated soup plates.

• Melt the butter in a pan, add paprika. Swirl the butter onto the soup.

Makes 6 servings.


½ small head read cabbage, finely shredded

¼ vegetable oil

½ medium onion, chopped

2 tsp caraway seeds

1 bay leaf

1 tbs balsamic-style cider vinegar (or 1 tbs sugar and 1 tbs cider vinegar)

salt to taste

1 cup water

2 tsp whole mustard seeds

Braised Red Cabbage

• Sauté onions in oil until translucent. Mix in caraway seeds and bay leaf.

• Add shredded cabbage, along with vinegar (or vinegar + sugar), salt and water. Bring to a boil.

• Gently simmer on very low heat for about hour-and-a-half, stirring occasionally, making sure there is just enough liquid to prevent from burning. Remove the bay leaf.

• Best served the next day, with mustard seeds sprinkled decoratively.

Serves 4.

Tastes delicious with various German sausages, such as bratwurst or knackwurst, with good mustard on the side. A glass of Riesling would go very well indeed.

Ragout of Cranberry Beans (Yahni)

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tsp of garam masala (an Indian mixture of spices)

¼ tsp or more red pepper flakes

1 large bay leaf

1 tsp salt (or to taste)

2 cups of shelled cranberry beans (from 2 lb of beans

   in their pod)

1 cup crushed tomatoes

2 cups water



Serve as part of a meze table.

A glass of Zinfandel or a shot of raki would be really  good.

In a casserole, over medium heat, sautée onion in oil until translucent. Add garam masala, red pepper and salt. Continue cooking for a few more minutes, while stirring with a wooden spoon.

• Add the beans, bay leaf, tomatoes and water. Stir well and bring it to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer on a very low heat for two hrs, until the beans are soft and the sauce is thick.

• Let it cool in the casserole with the cover on. Transfer it to bowl and decorate it with chopped Italian parsley.

Note: If fresh cranberry beans are not available, substitute canned pinto beans and adjust the cooking time.

Taramosalata – My Way

1 large jar (14 oz.) ready-made taramosalata (Krinos brand)

2/3 cup labné or regular sour cream

2 cloves of crushed garlic (or to taste)

• Put all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Mix well.

• Empty onto a plate. Cover and let it rest for several hours in the refrigerator.

Serve as a spread on fresh bread as part of a meze table.

Raki is the traditional drink.

Papaya with Blackberries

4 cups cut-up giant papaya (half of a 4 lb papaya)

1 box (½ pint) blackberries

¼ cup honey

½ cup chopped walnuts

• Mix papaya and blackberries with honey in a bowl. Let it macerate in the refrigerator for a while.

• Divide into four dessert plates and sprinkle with walnuts.

Serves four.

A glass of Mandarine Napoleon (a Belgian tangerine liqueur) would go well.

1 tbs butter

1 ½ cup diced tomato (fresh or canned)

2 large eggs

salt and pepper to taste (you may consider using hot pepper sauce)

Cut-up chives or cilantro

  1. In a skillet melt butter on medium heat. Add tomatoes with juices, as well as salt and pepper.

  2. Cover and let it for cook about 5 minutes.

  3. Break the eggs in a bowl. Mix the yolk and the whites gently together. Pour it over the cooked tomatoes.

  4. Swirl the eggs a few times to incorporate it into the tomato mixture (do not over mix them; there should be clear streaks).

• Cook until eggs are set to your liking. Add chives (or cilantro) and serve.

Tomatoes with eggs

Serves one.

Delectable for brunch with peasant bread and hot tea (Assam preferred)

1 lb fresh beets (about 2 – 3 medium size), boiled, skinned and cut-up

1 cup walnut pieces

2 garlic cloves, chopped

one bunch cilantro, tops only

2 tbs cider vinegar or to taste

salt to taste

• In a food processor bowl crush walnuts, garlic and cilantro. Add cut-up beets. Pulse until coarsely chopped.

• Mix in vinegar and salt. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.

Serve as an appetizer on crackers (I like Finn Crisps’  multigrain).

A mug of Pale Ale (Sam Adam’s) is good.

Beet and Walnut Spread

1 lb mixed Asian-type mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster and/or enoki

1/4 cup vegetable oil

12 oz. Japanese soba (buckwheat) noodles*

Asian hot sesame or chili oil to taste

Teriyaki sauce to taste (prefarably Kikoman brand)

1 cup thinly sliced scallions, green parts only

• Sautée mushrooms in oil, as you boil the noodles in water. Drain them and add to mushrooms.

• Add sesame oil and teriyaki sauce to the pan and mix well. Plate it and sprinkle with scallions.

(*) I use brown shirataki noodles, made from a plant, and available in Japanese grocery stores. They are extremely         low in calorie, while they satisfy your craving for pasta.

Could be presented hot or cold. Serves 4.

A glass of Jamaican ginger beer (not ginger ale) would nicely complement it.

Mushrooms with Noodles (Asian style)

3 large Belgian endives, halved lengthwise

1/3 cup dry vermouth

1 tbs butter, in pieces

2 tsp sea salt or to taste

• Place endives flat side down in a heavy skillet (preferably cast iron).

• Add vermouth and butter. Cover the pan and bring it to a boil.  Lower heat to medium and continue cooking for 5 minutes.

• Remove cover and, on high heat, evaporate the liquid. Let the butter caramelize the endive to a rich brown. Serve on the brulée side up, sprinkled with salt.

Serves 3 as a side dish (in photo with salmon burger).

A Belgian beer, such as Duvel, would nicely complement the slightly bitter taste of the endive.

Endive brulée

1 stem large leeks without dark green leaves (½ lb), sliced thinly

1 small head of savoy cabbage, sliced thickly

2 celery stalks with leaves, cut in pieces

6 cups of water

1 large carrot (½ lb), cut diagonally

1 red bell pepper, cut in strips

16 oz can of black beans (preferably Goya), drained

Salt and hot sauce, such as Sriracha, to taste

¼ cup wine vinegar or to taste

2 tbs of Dijon mustard or to taste

• Place leeks, cabbage, celery in a soup pot. Add water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.

• Add carrots, red peppers and beans. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Taste and add salt to taste.

• In a separate bowl mix hot sauce, vinegar and mustard. Temper it with some of soup liquid. Pour it back into soup pot. Mix gently.

Serves 4

Dish it out piping hot with crusty bread.

Savoy Soup

1 small to medium onion, chopped

2 tbs vegetable oil

2 tsp caraway seeds

1 lb of Savoy cabbage, cored and thickly sliced

1 carrot, cut into narrow batons

salt to taste

½ or more cup water

1 cup trofie (squiggly shape pasta) or mini bow-tie pasta

cut-up chives and coarsely ground black pepper (optional)

• In a large skillet, sweat the onions in the oil for about 5 minutes on medium heat.

• Add sliced cabbage, carrots, caraway seeds, salt and water, and mix it well. Cover, bring to a boil and cook on low heat for about 20 minutes. Add more water to prevent  from scorching.

• Meanwhile boil pasta in salted water (dry trofie takes about 20 minutes). Reserve some of the cooking liquid.

• Drain and transfer it to the skillet and mix it well. Add the reserved pasta water if it looks dry. Drizzle some good olive oil, if desired. Sprinkle with chives and black pepper.

Serves 2

A filling entrée, accompanied by pickles.

Cabbage à la Hongroise

1 lb young fava beans (the pods should feel velvety to the touch), strings removed

1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and sliced into crescents

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 cup dill fronds, tightly packed

1 tsp sugar

juice of ½ a lemon

salt to taste

1 ½ cup hot water

1 cup plain yogurt at room temperature

1 clove of garlic, mashed

• Sautee onions in oil until translucent. Add fava beans, dill, salt, sugar and lemon. Add water, mix all ingredients and bring it to a boil.

• Cover tightly and simmer on low heat for about an hour until very tender. Add more hot water if necessary; the dish should not be dry. Let it cool.

• Serve at room temperature, topped with garlic flavored yogurt.

Serves 2

Unfiltered apple juice would make a proper beverage.

Fava Beans in the Pod

2 tilapia fillets (about 8 oz. each)

Salt to taste

1/2 cup flour (preferably Wondra brand)

1/2 cup corn oil to cover the bottom of pan

Hot pepper sauce or fresh lemon juice

• Dredge fillets in salted flour. Shake off extra flour. Heat oil in a large pan.

• Sautee each side on medium-hot heat until golden brown -- about 8 minutes total.

• Drizzle with hot sauce or lemon juice, if desired

Serves 2 with a side dish of greens.

A mug of cold Samuel Adam’s lighter-bodied Pale Ale would hit the spot.

Pan-fried Tilapia

2 lb mussels in their shell

½ cup olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced

1 cup each of diced and cooked carrots, potatoes and celery root

½ cup chopped parsley and fresh thyme

½ cup tomato sauce

1 tbs lemon juice

1 cup water

salt and red pepper flakes

• Steam mussels until shells open. Let it cool. Remove meat.

• On medium heat sauté onions and garlic in oil until translucent.

• Add root vegetables, parsley, thyme, tomato sauce, lemon juice and water. Season to taste.

• Simmer with cover on for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

• Turn heat off and mix in mussels. Sprinkle with additional parsley.

• Cover and let it cool.

Serves six.

It makes a satisfying first course, served with peasant bread and white wine. I particularly like to drink a Greek retsina, such as Kourtaki -- admittedly an acquired taste.

Mussels Ragout

3 stems of rhubarb (about 1 lb), trimmed and cut into ½ inch pieces

1 box strawberries, halved

4 tbs sugar (preferably turbinado)


1 tbs cornstarch

• Put rhubarb, strawberries and sugar in a pot. Mix it well.

• Add water (¼ cup), cover and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat to a minimum and simmer,             stirring occasionally. Don’t let it boil over. Cook for about 10 minutes until the fruit is broken down.

• Dissolve cornstarch in some water and add to compote. Continue simmering for 5 minutes.            Turn heat off.

• Transfer to individual bowls. Let it cool.

Serves four.

Whipped cream would nicely complement it. A honey based liqueur, such as Scottish Drambuie would enhance the natural tart flavor of this intriguing dessert.

Rhubarb-Strawberry Compote

3 cups mini farfalle

¼ olive oil

1 cup crushed tomatoes

1 cup skinned grape tomatoes

½  cup sun-dried tomatoes

2 oz. baby spinach

2 cups shredded ricotta salata

salt and black pepper to taste

• Boil pasta in large amount of salted water until just done.

• In a large skillet heat olive oil on medium heat. Stir in crushed tomatoes. Transfer cooked pasta along with some cooking liquid and half of the cheese (1 cup), grape tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes and spinach leaves. Mix well and simmer for 3 minutes. Season to taste.

• Plate into individual bowls. Drizzle more olive oil, if desired. Sprinkle with rest of the cheese.

Serves four.

A glass of Italian Valpolicella would nicely complement the acidic flavor of tomatoes.

Pasta with Tomatoes

Plum Compote

1 lb Italian plums, halved lengthwise

1 cup small pitted prunes

¼ cup sugar in the raw

orange zest, grated (optional)

crème frêche (optional)

• Put the plums, prunes and sugar in a medium-size pan. Add water to cover.

  1. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Let it rest. Divide into individual bowls.  If desired, grate orange zest or add a dollop of crème frêche right before serving.

Serves six.

Japanese plum wine and a slice of walnut cake would make an excellent dessert choice.

6 medium-size turnips (about 2 ½ lbs), cut into batons

1 small beet root, cut into slices

3 cups distilled vinegar

3 cups water

2 tbs salt, preferably sea salt

hot pepper flakes to taste

• Place beet root slices in the bottom of clean jars. Add turnips snuggly on top.

• Mix vinegar, water, salt and pepper flakes in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

• Add hot liquid into jars until turnips are covered. Let them cool. Cover and refrigerate.

• The pickles will be ready in a week.

Serve as part of a Middle Eastern meze table.

Pickled Turnips

1 rosette cardoons (about 8 stalks)

1 lb sunchokes (aka. Jerusalem artichokes)

¼ cup vegetable oil, ¼ cup olive oil, each

1 medium onion, sliced into crescents

salt to taste

juice of ½ large lemon

½ cup Italian parsley

• Trim cardoons and slice into 2-inch pieces. Peel sunchokes and cut into 1-inch cubes.

• In a pan sweat onions in vegetable oil. Mix in cardoons and add enough water to cover it well.

• Cook cardoons on medium heat for 30 minutes with cover on. Add sunchokes, season with salt. Simmer an additional 20 minutes or until fork tender.

• Add parsley and ¼ cup of olive oil. Mix carefully and let the dish cool, covered.

• If desired, you may serve it with Greek egg-lemon sauce (avgolemono)

Serves 6.

Cardoon & Sunchoke in Olive Oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, mashed

4 tbs olive oil

½ cup dry vermouth

1 ½ cup crushed tomatoes

¼ cup capers

1 tbs dry oregano

½ cup chopped Italian parsley leaves

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 lb monkfish in ½ inch medallions

salt to taste

½ cup feta cheese, crumbled

• In a heavy pan sautée onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent.

• Add vermouth, tomatoes, capers, oregano, half of parsley and pepper flakes. Cook without cover for about 5 min. until sauce reduced in half.

• Mix in monkfish and cook for 5 minutes with cover on. Salt to taste.

• Sprinkle cheese over the dish and place pan under broiler for about two minutes. Divide it between two soup plates and sprinkle with the remaining parsley. A piece of crusty bread is a must.

Serves 2

A crisp Pinot Grigio or Italian Barbera would complement this dish nicely. (A red wine is not a traditional pairing with fish, but Barbera goes very well with tomato sauce.)

Monkfish with Feta

1 medium onion, halved and sliced

½ head Savoy cabbage, cored and thickly shredded

3 tbs vegetable oil

1 link kielbasa, cut into ½ inch slices

1 lb fresh sauerkraut with juice

1 red bell pepper, sliced

2 tps dill seeds

1 tps red pepper flakes

Cabbage with Kielbasa

• Sauté onions in a deep pan on medium heat until translucent. Add cabbage, a bit of water, cover and cook until softened, for about 5 minutes.

• Mix in all other ingredients, except Brussels sprouts. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add the sprouts, bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes more. You may have to adjust the amount of the liquid, for there should be some on the bottom of the pan.

  1. Let it rest. Best reheated and served in individual deep dishes.

Serves 4

This hearty dish goes well with a clean, crisp beer, such as Stella Artois.

Broiled Salmon

12 – 16 oz center-cut salmon fillet

lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

2 tbs mayonnaise

1 small shallot, chopped

hot sauce

vegetable oil

• Remove fish skin. Salt and pepper the fillet. Marinate fish in lemon juice.

• Mix mayonnaise, shallots and hot sauce. Spread it evenly on top of fish.

• Smear the bottom of a cast iron skillet with some oil. Heat until super hot.

• Place fish on skillet with bottom side down; immediately transfer it under broiler.

• Broil for 10 minutes or until the top is browned. No need to turn the fish.

Serves two, accompanied by sugar snap peas.

A slightly chilled glass of Beaujolais Villages would complement this dish.

• Separate radicchio leaves into large chunks. Halve the endives and cut them diagonally into         thick slices.

  1. Toss the salad, add the vinaigrette and mix it well. Taste for seasoning.

Serves 4

A German Riesling, savory and understated, would go well with this salad. A few slices of prosciutto and a piece toast would make a good luncheon platter.

Tricolore Salad

1 small head radicchio

½ lb baby arugula

2 stems Belgian endive

a dozen or so cherry tomatoes

½  cup homemade vinaigrette sauce

a pinch of Fleur de sel (French sea salt), if desired

  1. Mix oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and shallots.

  1. In separate containers, add 1/3 of the dressing on red and 1/3 on golden beets. Let them absorb it for an hour.

  1. When ready to serve, sauté the cheese lightly.

• Toss spinach with remaining dressing. Plate the spinach, add the beets decoratively on top and serve the heated cheese on the side.

  1. Wash the lentils. Put it in a 3-quart saucepan, add water and vinegar. After bringing to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

  1. Add scallions, mushrooms and curry powder (I use, instead, a tbs of Garlic Relish made by Patak).

  1. Continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but not mushy. Add salt, oil and cilantro. Stir.

•Plate it in a deep dish and add a generous dollop of yogurt.

½ lb Brussels sprouts, halved or quartered if large

½ cup canned tomatoes, crushed

2 cups water, divided

2 cups water

1 cup red lentils

½ cup fine bulgur

4 tbs olive oil

1 small onion, chopped fine

1 plum tomato, chopped fine

2 tsp cumin

red pepper flakes to taste

salt to taste

green parts of 3 scallions, sliced

lettuce leaves, mint leaves, olive oil

• Bring water to boil. Add lentils, stir and turn heat to low. Cover pan partially.

• In about 10 minutes the lentils should be cooked and the water almost absorbed. Turn the heat off. Add bulgur and stir. Cover pan and let it rest.

• Meanwhile, in a skillet heat oil. Cook chopped onions until soft. Add tomatoes and cumin. Cook a few more minutes.

• Transfer the contents of the skillet – along with the oil – to the lentil mixture. Add salt, pepper flakes and scallion slices. Mix well. Let it cool completely.

• Take walnut-size pieces and shape them into stubby “fingers” by gently squeezing the mixture in your palm.

• Decorate with mint leaf and nestle each in lettuce leaves. Drizzle additional olive oil.

Makes about two dozen patties.

Serve as part of meze table.

Red Lentil Fingerlings

½ lb. marinated baby artichoke hearts

4 oz sun-dried tomatoes in oil

¼ cup capers, rinsed

Italian parsley leaves

good olive oil to drizzle

• Cut artichokes in half and discard any rough outer leaves.

• Mix artichokes, tomatoes and capers in a bowl.

• Plate it and decorate with parsley leaves. Drizzle with oil.

Artichoke tastes rather metallic with most wines. A hearty lager beer would be just fine.

Serves 2 as first course.

Artichoke Salad