Fresh Spring Salad

by Anna on March 23, 2011

in Appetizer,Salads,Vegetarian

Awwwww… don’t you love that spring started? Spring is by far my favorite season, everything looks so fresh and alive, even the birds are happier. And at the Farmer’s Market the selection of beautiful veggies are mind blowing. The gardens all over the city look amazing filled with colorful flowers. It’s really wonderful to drive around, to tell you the truth it’s very hard to stay inside lately. Last year I had all sorts of herbs growing in my little balcony. And that was something I was really looking forward to. It’s great to have a selection of herbs to cook with. I think herbs always add a new dimension to your dish. How about you? Are you planting something this spring?

Fresh Spring Salad:

  • 3 small cucumbers
  • 1 medium fennel bulb
  • 1 bunch of Mache or arugula
  • 1 cup of cooked Fava beans


Cut the cucumbers and the fennel with a mandolin in very thin slices. If you are using fresh Fava beans cook them in boiling water for few minutes and then shock them in ice water. Remove the outer shell. Organize all the veggies in a small plate and drizzle with the herbs dressing. And enjoy a taste of spring in your plate.

Herbs vinaigrette:

  • 1 small bunch of mint
  • 1 small bunch of parsley
  • 1 small bunch of dill
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper


Put all the ingredients in the food processor and pulse few times until well combined. You can add basil also if you have handy. I use this vinaigrette also as a spread in my sandwiches.


Labneh Appetizer

by Anna on March 20, 2011

in Appetizer,Drinks

Hi guys, this appetizer were kind of a stroll in memory lane for us. If there is something I really miss about NY is the amount of options of Über cool places to go and have a little drink and some yummy appetizers on the weekends. Places like PDT (please don’t tell) that you have to enter through a super secretive telephone cabin door. And inside all sorts of new drinks one more delicious than the other; The little owl, The spotted pig with April Bloomfield amazing food, Momofuko of course my very favorite in Manhattan, Casa Mono with a selection of little plates to blow your mind, or our favorite wine bar that everybody new us by our names. Also extremely low key and with delicious Italian antipasti to nibble while sipping some nice wine. Oh boy!!! I miss that… and all those places without the need to dress from head to toe in designer clothes and accessories and of course the necessity to be a size 0. Oh yes…. LA bar scene if you are not a size 0 something is very wrong with you. The hatred looks you get can burn your soul. I wonder when the bar scene will change here in LA, because there are really two types of places here, the fancy and beyond expensive places and the mediocre lousy ones it’s quite frustrating. And such lack of competition it’s absurd. If the place is just a bar… forget about nibbles…they don’t even serve peanuts. I don’t know about you but I need some enticing delicious nibbles to go with my drinks. So I decided to do it myself, which is totally cool, I don’t mind really because I have all I need right here in my love nest…lol. So every weekend we have a different theme and try a different drink. I’m not very big fan of sweet drinks but this one caught my eye, it sounded too interesting, Pears and rosemary. It’s inspired by Danny Meyer’s book “Mix, Shake, Stir “ (great book btw) and the best thing about having our private parties is that we don’t have to drive after drinking, which is a big no, no right?

Labneh cheese

  • 1 container 32 oz yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of dry mint
  • Cheesecloth


Mix the salt and yogurt, Place yogurt in cheesecloth and place over strainer and bowl. Let sit in fridge for 12- 24 hours. After 12 hours it acquires a thick consistency. If a thicker Labaneh is preferred, leave to drain for another 12 hours. Now mix the dry mint and roll the cheese into little balls. You can keep them in a sterilized mason jar with olive oil.

Here is what I did; I put the little balls in some individual glasses to marinate with some extra virgin olive oil, black peppercorns, shaved garlic, and a bruised spring of thyme. You can use also add green peppercorns or red chili flakes for a spicier version. Enjoy.

Pear rosemary cocktail

For the rosemary simple syrup:

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 springs of rosemary

Simmer it until all the sugar dissolves completely. Turn of the fire and let it steep for few minutes. Strain and let it cool down.

To prepare the drink:

  • Fill half of a pitcher with ice
  • 1 ½ cup of pear nectar such as Kern’s
  • 1 cup of vodka
  • ½ cup of the rosemary simple syrup
  • Mix it well and serve with a spring of rosemary.


Chicken Salad

by Anna on March 16, 2011

in Salads

Hi guys …as y’all can see I changed my template, let me tell you my ordeal…. I had so many issues with my old template that is not even funny. All the time something would happen to drive me crazy. But I’m very stubborn and I fought to keep it, I don’t even know why…so finally I gave up and decided to look for something else.

Oh boy! The amount of crappy templates around was overwhelming. So after looking all over for the best one, I came across “Thesis” and I’m in love. There is so much you can do that it kept me for hours in front of the computer trying different colors and typefaces, the possibilities are endless. Of course you have to know your way a bit with, and also know a tad of FTP. I’m not a pro, I had plenty of ‘pulling my hair’ moments, but in the end I got something I wanted without the need to ask anybody for help with codes and such. I designed my header too. No, Thesis people are not paying me for this love (I wish). Things now are working, as they should, so now I can concentrate on my cooking and experiments. I love chicken salad but I’m not a mayo fan. So I decided to try something else and the result didn’t disappointed me.

Chicken Salad


  • 3 cups cubed (1/2 inch) roasted chicken
  • 1 celery rib, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
  • 2 cups halved seedless green grapes
  • 3/4-cup thick Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup cream fraiche
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove minced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/2-teaspoon salt
  • 1/2-teaspoon black pepper


Toss together all ingredients in a large bowl until combined well. Served on radicchios leaves.


Moroccan Stuffed Tomatoes

by Anna on March 1, 2011

in Vegetarian

Hi guys…. remember me? LOL I know…I’m pushing my luck, but what can I say? Life is really putting me to a test right now…I have been doing so much that it would be nice if my day had more hours. I’m counting the minutes until we change the clock to summertime and I can get some more daylight to photograph my dishes. It also doesn’t help that outside looks so glorious and amazing making the notion of staying at home a very difficult one. Spring is my most favorite time of the year, and the beautiful produce are starting to show earlier at the Farmer’s Market here. And that alone makes living in California a blogger’s dream, the variety of goodies are amazing and they all look fantastic. With this dish I tried to use Moroccan flavors and it not only tasted delicious but smells fantastic too. All the herbs and cinnamon makes the dish a keeper.  Don’t worry about the anchovy filets… after you melt it, it just get a nutty flavor not fishy at all.


Moroccan Stuffed Tomatoes


  • 6-vine tomatoes red and yellow
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup chopped mint
  • 1cup diced feta cheese
  • 1 box of couscous
  • Chicken broth
  • ¼ of teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 anchovy filets
  • 2tablespoons butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and butter a casserole dish and set aside.

Cut the tomatoes in half, horizontally, and keep the top. Use a small spoon to gently hollow out the inside of the tomatoes, discarding the seeds and reserving the pulp and being careful not to puncture the outer shell. Chop the reserved pulp and put in a medium bowl. Add the parsley, cilantro, mint, feta cheese salt and pepper, lemon juice and mix gently to combine.

Cook the couscous as directed in the box with the chicken broth, cinnamon and cumin. Place the tomato halves in the buttered dish, and fill with the couscous mixture. In a small saucepan melt the butter and add the anchovy filets, stirring until the anchovy melts, add the breadcrumbs and mix it well. Top the tomatoes with the anchovy breadcrumbs put the tomato top back, drizzle with a good extra virgin olive oil and bake until the tops are browned, about 20 minutes. You are probably going to have some couscous leftover…you can add some wild arugula and enjoy the mix as a salad. That’s what I did. Enjoy.



Braised Short Ribs

by Anna on February 15, 2011

in Beef,Technique,World Food

Hi girlfriends, and boyfriends… if you are a guy and you’re here interested in some yummy home cooking, kudos for you, you are my kind of guy. How was everyone’s ‘V’ day? I had a lovely peaceful day strolling around, watching funny movies and sampling yummy food with my honey. We cooked together and sipped some wine while cooking this delicious short rib. I absolutely love when he is in the kitchen with me, we laugh a lot, maybe is the wine or maybe we just enjoy each other too much. One or another…. this recipe was the result of learning the “combination cooking method” on my favorite site (Rouxbe). I changed the flavors a bit. But still the result was the most tender and delicious short rib I ever had. The meat was so tender we didn’t even need a knife. I think the browning of the meat was the most important step in this recipe, so be very patient and do it without burning the browning bits at the bottom of the pan, because that’s where all the flavors are.

Braised Short Ribs


  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 ½ to 6 pounds of beef short ribs pieces
  • ¼ cup of canola oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 green onions thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1 lemongrass stalk cut in 4 pieces and crushed
  • 3 cups of beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon hot curry powder
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 3 celery stalks chopped
  • 1 can of coconut milk


Pre-heat the oven 350F. Then pat dry the ribs with paper towel, season the meat liberally with salt and pepper. In a large heavy pot over medium high heat add the oil and start to brown the meat in batches. Until evenly browned. Remove the meat and set aside, add the onions, celery, ginger lemongrass, and curry powder. Sautee until onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, now put back the ribs and the beef broth, bring to a boil, cover and cook until ribs are tender. When the ribs are done use a large spoon to skim as much as you can the fat from the surface of the sauce. Remove and discard the lemongrass. Add half of the coconut milk or add more as needed. Taste for seasoning adding salt if needed. I served mine with basmati lemongrass rice. I just cocked the rice with half lemongrass stalk cut in half and crushed.


Hi guys…. remember that I mentioned the ‘Avec Eric’ program in my post about Brazilian seafood soup? Well… his people contacted me and asked if I wanted the ‘Avec Eric’ Cookbook…. Ha! How about that? My answer was… Oh Yes Please! I love his style; I wish every chef were like him, gentle, and fair to his employees. Did you know he doesn’t allow any screaming or bad words in his kitchen? So I guess that all that good karma is being translated straight into his food. So this week I got the book and didn’t even know were to start, everything looks delicious. But this chorizo sausage and clams was in my mind for the whole day. Watching his show I’ve learned a valuable lesson, prep is very, very important. So I got some little metal bowls and before I start to cook now I prep all my aromatics, herbs, garnish, it makes cooking a breeze. If you like clams like I do, you will love this recipe. It serves 4. And of course as Chef Eric always say…. ‘Sante…cook from life.’

Steamed Clams in White Wine-Chorizo Broth

(From the book Avec Eric)


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced Spanish Chorizo
  • 1 small shallot thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove thinly sliced
  • 4 pounds small clams, such as cockles scrubbed and soaked
  • 1-teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley


Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot add the chorizo, shallot, garlic and sauté until aromatic, about 3 minutes. Add the clams, season with black pepper and deglaze the pan with the wine. Cover the pan and steam the clams until they open, about 8 minutes to 10. Add the butter and parsley and gently toss to combine. Serve the clams in a bowl with fresh crusty bread.


Coconut Thai Shrimp

by Anna on January 18, 2011

in Seafood,Shelfish,World Food

Have I told you about my love affair with Thai food? Yes…. I have one. I could live on Thai food alone, and never get tired. Because I absolutely adore those flavors. My hubby told me various tales about his trips to Thailand, he said he had the most amazing delicious food just being cooked in the middle of the street. I’m dying to go there and try to learn as much as I can about their food.

I love the combination of spicy chilies and sweet coconut milk and the fragrant Thai basil. So from time to time I try to recreate the taste, the best Thai food I ever had was in a little but extremely cool restaurant in Sydney Australia called Stir Crazy. It was kind of a neighborhood place very close to the place I used to live in. I loved to go there and see them cooking their dishes, and the place had this amazing aroma of basil that was intoxicating.

Ah! I miss that place a lot; it was a BYO restaurant so people were all outside holding a bottle of wine waiting for a table. Sometimes we would almost finish our bottle outside while waiting, but it was totally worth it. So this dish I made, was something I always had there and I tried to do as best as I could to recreate the flavor. My hubby told me it was as good as theirs but I’m a bit suspicious of his opinion. For my Thai dessert click here.

Coconut Thai Shrimp


  • 1 pound medium-sized prawns shell on
  • 3 large shallots
  • 2 stalks lemongrass finely minced
  • 2 inches piece ginger minced
  • 3 garlic clove minced
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 small Thai chilies thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced
  • 1 cup of sugar snap peas
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1tablespoon of curry powder
  • 1 small bunch of Thai Basil


First start by mincing everything and setting a side all separated in small little prep bowls. This will make your cooking easier.  Now clean and de-vein the prawns and keep the shells in a separate container. Heat a deep-sided sauté orfry pan over medium heat and add the oil. Add the prawns shells you saved before and slightly sauté it for few minutes to infuse the oil with some extra prawn flavor. Discard the shells and add the shallots, lemongrass, ginger and the curry powder, cook for 3 or 4 minutes or until the shallots are translucent. Add the minced garlic and half of the sliced chilies. Cook a little more. Now add the peppers and snap peas sautéing them but being careful to not overcook the vegetables, add now the prawns and cook them slightly until they became pink. Add the coconut milk and stir well to combine all the flavors. Taste for seasoning, add the rest of the chilies and finish with the basil leaves. Serve with white rice.


Meatball Shepard’s Style

by Anna on January 11, 2011

in Pork

I luuuuuuuv Shepard’s pie, I use to make it all the time but since I started blogging I have been experimenting with some new recipes and trying new dishes so I forgot all about it. So today I thought why not make a twist in my Shepard’s pie… instead of just make the minced meat and sauce I made some meatballs. I bought a piece of pork shoulder and asked the butcher to grind it for me. That way you make sure you have a good product to start. It makes all the difference, trust me. The secret of a great meatball is not to over mix the meat and end up like The Swedish Chef.

Meatball Shepard’s Style

For the Meatballs


  • 2 ponds of pork shoulder minced
  • 1 small red onion chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 8 to 10 cremini mushrooms chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
  • 4 slices of potato bread minced
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of Brandy or dry Sherry
  • 5 tablespoons of honey melted
  • 1 small bunch of parsley chopped
  • 1 1/3 teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoon of black pepper


Pre heat the oven 450 F. Then start with the aromatics, heat the oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the onions, garlic, red chili flakes and mushroom until they are golden stirring frequently. Then de-glaze the pan with Brandy and let the alcohol evaporates. Transfer to a bowl and let it cool down. In a food processor put the bread slices and the milk and pulse 7 to 10 times. Now mix together the aromatics, the bread mix, the eggs, and parsley until everything is well incorporated. Line a baking tray with aluminum paper and drizzle with olive oil. Only now mix the minced meat and season with salt and pepper. Mix it well with a fork being careful to not pack the mix. We don’t want cement like meatballs do we? I didn’t actually roll my meatballs…I used a small ice cream scoop to form my balls that way I had them all the same size. Now here is a trick to caramelize and get a yummy crust, arrange the meatballs pretty close together and brush them with the melted honey. Bake them in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Ps: You can test the seasoning frying a little of the mix in 1 teaspoon of canola oil.

For the Mashed Potatoes:


  • 1 1/2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered length-wise
  • 1/2-teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • ½ cup of Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and Pepper


Put potatoes into a saucepan. Add 1/2-teaspoon salt. Add water until potatoes are covered. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15-20 minutes, or until done – a fork can easily be poked through them. Warm cream and melt butter, together, in a small pan. Drain water from potatoes. Put hot potatoes into a bowl. Add cream and melted butter. Use potato masher to mash potatoes until well mashed adding milk to achieve the consistency you desire. Add the Parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

To finish my pie, I used some of my favorite tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan, then I  put  4 meatballs and covered with the mashed potato. Baked it in the oven 350 F for few minutes to melt the cheese and create a golden crust on top.