Monthly Archives: February 2013

Irish Stew


Irish Stew

St. Patrick’s Day is coming up fast, so I thought I would write a recipe for Irish stew. Stewing is an ancient method of cooking meats that is common throughout the world. However, the Celts did not possess their first bronze cauldrons (copied from the Greeks) until the beginning of 7th century BC. After the Celtic invasion of Ireland, the cauldron (along with spit, which stew is cooked over the same open fire) became the dominant cooking tool in ancient Ireland, ovens being practically unknown to the ancient Gaels. The root vegetables and meat (originally goat) for the stew were then all in place. It may be important to point out that potato was not included in the original Irish diet; they weren’t brought over from the Americas by the early the European explorers until the 15th century AD.
Stew is another great make-in-bulk recipe that can be easily frozen portioned out in freezer bags for those lazy to cook nights. Eat it with a nice chunk of bread or served over steaming mashed potatoes for a heartier dish. Some purists maintain that the only ingredients of an Irish stew should be muttonchops or young goat, potatoes, onions and water. Other people will say you can add such ingredients as parsnips or carrots and pearl barley for example.


Irish Stew
Serves about 6 people
2 medium-sized onions, chopped
Oil, for frying
1-ounce butter
1 sprig dried thyme
2 1/2 pounds best end of lamb neck, cut into large pieces
7 carrots, chopped lengthways into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons pearl barley
5 cups chicken stock, recipe follows
Salt, preferable sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, and bay leaf tied with kitchen string or tied in a cheesecloth like a purse)
12 medium potatoes
1 bunch parsley, leaves finely chopped
1 bunch chives, chopped or left whole depending on garnish preference

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, cook the onions in oil and butter, on medium-high heat until they are translucent. Add the dried thyme and stir. Add the lamb and brown on a high heat to seal in juices. Add carrots, and pearl barley. Pour in the chicken stock so that it almost covers the meat and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, and add Bouquet garni. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours, being careful not to boil. Place potatoes on top of the stew, cover and cook for 30 minutes until the meat is falling beautifully off the bones and the potatoes are fork tender.

Serve the stew in large flat soup bowls, and place a pad of herb butter over the potatoes and let it melt into the stew or garnish with parsley and chives.


Chicken Stock
1 Chicken carcass or 2-3 pounds of legs and wings bones and joints
2Tbls olive oil
1 onion
3 carrots, roughly chopped
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
Bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the stockpot. Combine vegetables in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with a little oil and brown vegetables and bay leaf. Add the chicken and water until it is just covering the chicken. Bring to boil and gently simmer for approximately 30 minutes, so not stir. Then let it cool down and skim off the fat and strain out vegetables and meat


Herb Butter

1 stick butter
1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped
1 small bunch chives, finely chopped
1 sprig thyme

Place butter in a mixer and blend until smooth. Add herbs and mix until all is well combined. Form into a log using plastic wrap and slice into desired sizes.


Photos courtesy of Getting images





Japanese Panko is dry breadcrumb often used in Japan but learned from the Portuguese. The word panko is derived from the Portuguese word for bread, pão, and ko, the Japanese suffix indicating flour, powder or crumb. Panko and breadcrumbs are not different, but panko are dry breadcrumbs.

You can use panko for many, many uses such as breading or crumbing meats, vegetables, or even fruits. You can also, use it for stuffing, to thicken stews, and top baked dishes to name some.

I have been making my own today as we just had a barbeque and ended up with lots of extra bread. There are two types of breadcrumbs you can make, dry (that is how panko usually is) and fresh. I am making dry breadcrumbs today as I usually use them for breading and want a harder crust.


Dry breadcrumbs (panko) are easy to make and can be made out of most any bread. I just happen to have a lot of hamburger and bratwurst buns but I usually think breads that are a bit sturdier are better like French baguette for example. You can either set the bread out sliced into chunks (if the loaf is thick or long) until it is hard, dry and stale (usually a day or two) or bake it in an oven (350F) (or toaster oven) until thoroughly dry. The smaller the pieces, the faster you can make panko, but it may be easier to grate medium to a bit larger pieces of bread.


When the bread is fully dried out, take a cheese grater and grate the bread on the desired coarseness of the panko. Store in a plastic or glass container or a freezer bag will do. Dry breadcrumbs make harder crusts. Keep them in the pantry or a dry, cool place. They should keep at least 2 weeks, but check before each use to ensure freshness. This is especially important f you make fresh breadcrumbs. To make fresh breadcrumbs, crumb the bread in a cuisine art, pulsing until desired coarseness. Put fresh breadcrumbs in an airtight container or bag and store in the refrigerator. Fresh panko will create a softer crust or filling.

Throughout my future blogs I’m sure I will share various recipes that uses breadcrumbs, but for now here are a few possible food ideas great for using dry and fresh breadcrumbs, enjoy!

Milanesa (breaded thinly sliced meat using dry breadcrumbs)

Japanese katsu (breaded, meat or seafood)

Meatballs, breadcrumbs are used in the mix

Scalloped potato casserole, dry breadcrumbs sprinkled as a topping

Stuffed chicken breast

photos by me




 Shakshouka is an easy and delicious and does not take much time to prepare, even for those busy mornings. I first had it in Israel and have made it at home ever since to always rave reviews. Shakshouka is a Middle Eastern dish popular in the North African Islamic countries, like Tunisia and Morocco, and is also popular in Israel brought over by the Tunisian Jewish people. It is also eaten with sausage in Spain. It consists of tomatoes, garlic, yellow onions, green onions and eggs cooked all together and is eaten with Middle Eastern flatbread.

The name shakshouka comes from the Tunisian word chakchouk, which means “a mixture” or “shaken”. It is also a popular family name in Tunisia. Some historians say the Ottoman Empire created the dish and other hail Yemen as the birthplace of shakshuka. There are many variations of shakshuka, and there are restaurants in Israel that have “modernized” the dish with many different takes on this established dish.



Serves 3-6 people

 4Tbls olive oil

1 1/4c chopped yellow onion

4-5 sliced green onions, about 1 inch lengthwise

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 medium tomatoes chopped

2, regular sized cans of diced tomatoes

1tsp ground cumin

1tsp paprika

1 hot chili pepper, seeded and ground

Salt and pepper to taste

6 eggs

 Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and garlic; cook and stir until the vegetables have softened and the onion has turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Pour the tomatoes into the skillet and stir in the cumin, paprika, salt, and chili pepper. Mix well. Simmer, uncovered, until the tomato juices have cooked off, about 10 minutes. Make six indentations in the tomato mixture for the eggs. Crack the eggs into the indentations. Cover the skillet and let the eggs cook until they’re firm but not dry, about 5 minutes.



You can do any type of variation you want with this dish, let your imagination run wild! Many people like to put salty cheeses with it like feta or add spicy sausage. Some people even make it with a cream sauce. Lastly, garnishing with parsley or basil adds fresh and aromatic dimension to this dish as well!

Eat with flatbread and enjoy!


Photos compliments of Getty images




I love gyoza and I think most of you out there do as well! There are so many variations on the dumpling and I adore them all but I have to say Japanese gyoza is my all-time favorite. (I especially love it with ramen, but that’s another blog entirely!)  I have been making my own gyoza lately, from scratch- dough and all. It’s much easier than I thought it would be. I’m gona share a couple recipes but first here is some gyoza background.


The Asian dumpling was first developed in China. The Chinese equivalent to the Japanese gyoza is called Jiaozi, and is a main food during the Chinese New Year and daily food in the northern regions of China. Japanese gyoza and Chinese jiaozi use the same written Chinese characters. The only real difference between the two dumplings is that gyoza is made with more garlic than jiaozi giving it more of a bite. The most common way to cook gyoza is pan fried, but you can find them in poached in soups, steamed in a basket, or sometimes deep-fried. Gyoza if fried or steamed is served with a sauce usually consisting of rice vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Pan-fried gyoza with gyoza sauce is my favorite! I’d better hurry up and finish this blog; the more I write the hungrier I get, so here is the recipe and enjoy!



Makes about 30-40 gyoza wrappers



100g cake flour

100g bread flour

½ c warm water

1/2tsp sea salt

Sift flours together 3 times. Dissolve the salt into the water and pour into the flour. Knead into dough and continue kneading for about 7minutes. Roll the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Let it sit out in room temperature for 30 minutes.

Make the filling in that time. After the 30 minutes are up, divide the dough in 3 equal parts and roll out one of the pieces. It needs to be as thin as possible; you should be able to slightly see the surface under it. The dough will expand a little when you cook them, so you do not want the gyoza to be too doughy and take away from the filling. Cut it out with a round cookie cutter about the size of your palm is a great size. You want to stack the finished gyoza wrappers with corn flour in between them so they wont stick together. If you are not making gyoza that day you can wrap them tightly with saran wrap and freeze them until you want to use them. They should last 6 months or so.

When you fill them and want to cook them, put a small amount of raw/uncooked filling in the center of the wrapper and dab the edges with water. Fold the wrapper in half and sit it upright, twist and pinch the edge in little folds to seal it shut. Put on a hot and oiled frying pan or flat top grill and sear the bottoms until they are a medium brown color. Throw some water (amount of water depends on amount of gyoza, 1/8c water to 6 gyoza) in the pan and cover the pan with a lid. Let the steam from the water cook the gyoza thoroughly for about 2-3 minutes.

Transfer to a plate and enjoy!

Basic gyoza sauce

1c light soy sauce

1/4c rice vinegar

3-4 Tbls sesame oil or spicy sesame oil

Gyoza Filling

1 pound ground pork

4 Tbls light soy sauce

6-8 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

6 scallion, thinly sliced or chopped

1 Tbls salt

1 Tbls black pepper

This is only a basic recipe for gyoza. The variations are endless, so have fun and share your favorite gyoza!


Important Tip

You cannot really store uncooked gyoza in the refrigerator, so cook them right away or freeze them until you want to eat them! Cooking directions are the same when they are frozen, just maybe a little longer cooking time, 3-4 minutes, enjoy!

Photos compliments of Getty images

Beef Milanesa A La Napolitana



Beef Milanesa

This is one of my favorite dishes to make. It not only tastes amazing, but it looks impressive while being really easy to make. Milanesa is a Central and South American version of the Italian Cotoletta alla Milanese, “little rib”, named after the rib bone that is still attached to the meat on this particular cut of veal. Milanesa is tenderized thinly sliced or pounded thin boneless meat that is breaded and deep-fried or sometimes baked. I first had Milanese in Argentina. Argentine food is more like Italian food, lots of pizza and pasta! Milanese is served all over Central and South America, brought over by Central Europeans. The meat is usually veal but you can use chicken, beef, pork or even soy meat. It is usually served with a slice of lemon and either potato puree, butternut squash puree or French fries. Topping Milanese off with mozzarella cheese, ham, tomato paste, garlic, oregano and basil turns it into Milanesa a la Napolitana in Argentina. There is another type of Milanese called, Cotoletta alla Palermitana, named after its origin in Palermo, Sicily. The breadcrumbs are often mixed with oregano and Parmesan and grilled instead of deep-fried or baked. It’s sometimes grilled on a lemon leaf giving it a unique Sicilian aroma.


The recipe I am giving is a healthier version using whole-wheat products and baking instead of frying.


Beef Milanesa

Serves 4

 1/2lb beef, divided into 4 equal pieces and thinly sliced or pounded thin about 1/4-1/2 of an inch thick

1/2c whole-wheat flour

4 eggs, lightly beaten

3-4c whole-wheat panko crumbs

Olive oil

4tbls tomato paste

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped and divided into 4 portions

2tsp oregano, divided into 4 portions

Salt and pepper to taste

4 thin slices of nice ham

1c mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided into 4 portions

4 basil leaves

Lemon wedges

 Preheat oven to 425 F

In three large bowls or plates put the flour, panko breadcrumbs and beaten egg. Season the beef with salt and pepper and coat with each ingredient starting with the flour, then the egg and lastly the panko. Make sure to press the panko onto the beef with pressure so you get a nice even coating. You may want to do a couple coats of the panko for each piece of beef to make sure you have a nice thick coat of breadcrumbs.

Take the olive oil and lightly drizzle the oil over the meat and put on a baking sheet and slide in the oven for about 10 min. Take the meat out of the oven and turn them over and top them with (in this order) the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, ham and then the cheese. Place them back in the oven for another 7-8 minutes. Take the Milanesa out and top them with a basil leaf or two. Serve it with the lemon wedges.


 Butternut Squash Puree

1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced

4tbls butter

Salt and pepper to taste


Place the diced squash in a pot of water and put it on the stove on high. Lightly salt the water and boil for 10 minutes or when they are tender.

Strain the squash and add the butter. Mash the squash until a puree and season with salt and pepper.


 Green Salad         

 1 head of romaine lettuce, medium dice

1 tomato, cut into wedges

1 carrot, shredded

1/2 red onion, sliced

Lemon wedges or vinegar

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

 Put all the vegetables in a bowl and garnish with the lemon or vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Photos by me and compliments of Getty images























Al Kabsa


Al Kabsa

I first had Al Kabsa in Japan of all places. A Saudi Arabian friend was studying in Japan and was homesick for a home cooked meal, so a group of us decided to try to cook his favorite dish as a surprise. We got the recipe from his mother and had to order some of the ingredients from the Internet, as it was hard to find certain things in the small international markets where we lived. Needless to say my friend was touched and we had a great dinner party that night! I have made this dish a few times since and have loved it every time.


A Little Background

Al Kabsa is a traditional dish from the Middle East, usually eaten in Saudi Arabia. It is a rice and meat dish, usually chicken or lamb but there are many other variants that I mention further down. The uniqueness of the dish comes from the spice mixture like cinnamon, cloves, black lime, cardamom, saffron and others that you can see in the recipe below. It is a dish that is usually served at family gatherings or parties, as the amount usually cooked is large to gigantic and is usually served on a large platter. The three major influences on Saudi cuisine – the nomadic Bedouin, the ancient Arabian control of the spice routes, and the food restrictions mentioned in the Quran, have had their influence on Kabsa as well as other dishes. There are numerous variants of Kabsa for instance, Mandi but the traditional recipe of this dish is known and appreciated by most lovers of Saudi Cuisine (Mandi is another traditional dish and I have had it in Dubai. It is a rice dish much like Kabsa but the meat is usually young and cooked in a tandoor, a hole dug in the ground and coated in clay. I had it once in Dubai at a small local restaurant and it was very delicious- I will write about that experience sometime, a unique experience!)

Each variant of Kabsa has its own distinctiveness in taste due to varied use of spices and other ingredients. The spices give Kabsa its characteristic flavor yet meat is considered the main ingredient and could range from goat, lamb, and camel to even beef, chicken and fish. Kabsa, garnished with almonds and pine nuts, is usually served with homemade hot tomato sauce called ‘Dakkous’ or another sauce called ‘Shattah’. Mandi is served with those sauces accompanied with yogurt and a chicken broth. I like my Kabsa with yogurt, try it all!



1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces or 4 pounds lamb medium dice

2 cup basmati rice, washed and rinsed

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 bay leaves

2 organic chicken bouillon cubes

2 onions, diced

4 garlic cloves, diced

12 green cardamom pods, whole

9 cloves

4 cinnamon sticks

4 black limes

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp coriander

2 tsp salt

2 tsp pepper

2 tsp ginger

2 tsp cardamom, ground

2 (15 ounce) cans of tomato sauce

8 hard-boiled eggs, optional

Pine nuts and raisins for garnish, optional


Place basmati rice in bowl with water over it to expand, it will not cook and will stay hard unless you do this. Leave for 15 minutes at the least.

In an 8-quart stockpot on medium-high heat add onions, garlic and. Allow onions to turn golden. Add bay leaves, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon sticks, black limes, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, ginger and ground cardamom. Blend well and allow to sauté for 30 seconds.

Add tomato sauce and chicken bouillon. Mix well until sauce thickens, reduce heat to low-medium. Add meat and allow to sauté for 1 minute. Rotate meat so that it gets all of the flavors. Add water until meat is completely covered. Bring to a full boil then reduce to low. Cook for 35 minutes covered.

After the meat has cooked reserve broth for rice. In a 2-quart saucepan, add rice and enough sauce from the meat just so that the rice is covered. Bring to a boil then immediately turn heat to low and cook covered for eight to ten minutes. Meanwhile, why the rice is cooking turn oven on high broil. Add meat to a roasting pan and broil for five minutes or until golden.

Add cooked rice to a serving platter with the meat arranged on top. Garnish plate with hard-boiled eggs, pine nuts, and raisins.



1 garlic clove, mashed

3 tomatoes, blanched, peeled, rough puree

1 green chili pepper, mashed

1 tsp tomato paste

1 tsp olive oil

Combine everything in a dish and mix well



8 cloves of garlic

3 red jalapeno peppers, stem removed

15 Thai bird chilies, stems removed

1 cup of fresh flat leaf parsley

1 cup of fresh cilantro

1/2 tbsp white vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cracked black pepper

1 tsp cumin powder

6 oz of tomato paste

1 cup of water

Plain Greek yogurt to taste for garnish

Throw everything into a blender or food processor, and pulse it down into you have a nice, smooth mixture. Add the mixture to a sauce pan, cover, and place on medium heat for about five minutes or until it has fully came to a boil. Stir, remove from the heat and let cool.


Photos by Getty images

Heading back to California… Will blog then!!