Peppers ready for roasting

Peppers ready for roasting

A Moroccan inspired dish adapted(slightly) from Epicurious.  A traditional harissa is just made from roasted hot peppers, which would be a bit too much for this dish(and for us).  If you want to kick up the heat a bit, add a second roast jalapeno — that was about our maximum spice tolerance.  The fish can also be fried or grilled, but rubbing with olive oil allows the spices to adhere nicely with a minimum of grease.


(serves 2)


  • 2 fillets tilapia
  • a few pinches of cumin and coriander
  • olive oil
  • wedge of lemon (for serving)


  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Halve and deseed the red pepper, then rub with olive oil.  Rub the jalapeno and garlic with oil as well, then roast them all on a foil-covered cookie sheet for about 10 minutes.  Remove the garlic and flip the peppers, then roast for another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, rub the tilapia with some olive oil, then lightly dust  with cumin, coriander and salt.  Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat and fry the fish until browned, about three minutes per side.   Keep warm while you assemble the harissa.

Remove the skin from the red pepper and the stem from the jalapeno, then place everything(peppers, garlic and spices) in a food processor.  Blend until the peppers are broken down, then gradually add olive oil until .   Season with salt and pepper.

Plate the fish and squeeze the lemon over each piece, then top with the harissa.  We like to serve this over some whole wheat couscous with sunflower seeds to add a bit of crunch.


These pancakes aren’t really whole wheat, just half and half, but it lends a slight nutty taste and makes the recipe a bit more healthy.   This recipe makes about ten medium sized pancakes, which is just about enough for a big weekend breakfast for two people.  Any leftovers can be frozen and reheated in a toaster just like frozen waffles.

Cranberry syrup is just one of the many possible pancake toppings, and one of the more complicated ones at that.  Other options include:  a quarter cup of frozen raspberries(blackberries or blueberries), microwaved and smashed with a tablespoon of maple syrup stirred in or Nutella.


(serves 2)


  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • (optional) 2 tbsp shelled pecans

Stir together dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Melt the butter in a glass measuring cup and mix in the milk and egg.  Stir into the dry mixture.  If it looks too thick, thin with a little water.  Toast the pecans.  Heat a nonstick frying pan or griddle  over medium heat and brush with butter or oil(really, less is more).  Pour about a quarter cup of batter onto the griddle and press three pecan halves into each pancake.   Cook until golden brown on the bottom(about two minutes on my stove), then flip and cook about two minutes longer.  If preparing all pancakes before eating, keep warm in a 250 F oven.  Extra pancakes freeze well and can be reheated in the toaster.

Cranberry Syrup

  • 1/4 cup fresh/frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until all the cranberries have burst and the mixture begins to thicken a little, about ten minutes.  Smash the cranberries a little more and add extra maple syrup if it gets too thick.

Pasta Puttanesca

February 14, 2009

Pasta Puttanesca is a chunky sauce of intense flavors that meld together perfectly – olives, anchovy paste, capers and hot red pepper.  You can either enjoy it as is, or mellow it out slightly by melting some goat cheese into the sauce.

I first came across Pasta Puttanesca in an Italian restaurant somewhere in Delaware.  At that point, I didn’t like olives, capers or anchovy paste, but this dish called to me anyway and I loved it enough to try reproducing it at home.  Over the years I’ve grown to love olives and capers(I’m still working on the anchovy paste), and moved up from just dumping in a can of black olives to using a mix of Kalamata’s, green and black olives.


(serves 4)

  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 sausages, sliced (optional)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, without calcium carbonate
  • 1 tbsp anchovy paste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups mixed olives, pitted and halved
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 4 oz goat cheese (optional, but awesome)

In  a large bowl, crush the tomatoes with your hands.  You don’t need to be very thorough, since the heat will finish breaking them down, just make sure to squeeze any large pieces through your fingers.   This can be kind of fun and stress relieving.

Meanwhile heat up the oil in a large saucepan and saute the garlic and hot pepper flakes until fragrant, about a minute.   Then add the sliced mushrooms and the sausage(if using) and saute until the mushrooms begin to water.

Add the red wine and let it boil up, then add the tomatoes, anchovy paste and herbs.  Bring to a boil and then simmer on low for twenty minutes while you cook the pasta.  You should use a shaped pasta that will hold a lot of sauce — like penne or campanelle.   If you’re skeptical about the anchovy paste, taste it now and add more red wine if it tastes too fishy.

Stir in the olives, then bring back up to a simmer and taste to adjust salt, pepper and acidity.  Too sweet?  Add some lemon juice and pepper.  Too acid?  Add some sugar.   Remove from the heat and stir in the capers.   At this point, remove any sauce you want to save for another meal and stir the goat cheese into the remaining sauce appropriate (1 oz per person) and then toss thoroughly with the pasta and serve.

Fennel and Grapefruit Salad

February 8, 2009

We’ve been attempting to broaden our palettes by trying a new fruit or vegetable each week.  This week I brought home some fennel(labeled anise at the grocery store).  I’d heard that orange and fennel pair well together, and we had a leftover grapefruit lying around, hence this salad.  It turned out much better than I was expecting.  This is a salad where the whole really is more than the sum of the parts.  The acid of the grapefruit brings out the delicate flavor of the fennel.


(serves two)

  • 1/2 bulb fennel
  • 1 grapefruit

Slice the fennel as thin as you can; for me this varied between zero and  1/8 inches, which was fine.  Supreme the grapefruit by slicing off the top and bottom, then removing the peel with a knife all around the fruit.  Once this is done, cut along the skin to remove the segments.  Alternatively, you can do what my mom does, which is to halve the grapefruit, then scoop out each section with a  grapefruit spoon.  Either way, make sure most of the juice ends up in the bowl with the grapefruit.  I’ve never supremed anything before tonight, so it was slow going, but I think with practice supreming will be both faster and prettier.

Now combine the fennel and grapefruit in a medium sized bowl and finish the dressing with some olive oil and salt

  • 1 glug of olive oil, maybe 1 1/2 tbsp?
  • 1/4 tsp salt, and then to taste

This makes a very refreshing side salad, or you could top it with some grilled seafood or chicken to make a meal.  We tried adding in some Kalamata olives, which may work with meat, but didn’t work as a stand alone salad.

I was intending on roasting the rest of the fennel, but never got around to it — instead I boiled it in some homemade chicken broth with orzo for a light soup.