Thursday, June 28, 2012


Piquillo Harissa

I use this recipe on a spatchcocked chicken ( SEE BELOW) for the best BBQ chicken ever. the flavors are deep and intense with the fresh herbs combining with the hard spices. this recipe is the bomb! 

the spatchcocked bird is simply the best way to grill chicken. all the flavor of a whole bird but in half the time. get brave, grab a knife and get cooking!

3 limes, zested and juiced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 stick cinnamon
2 star anise
10 ounces roasted piquillo pimentos or roasted red peppers
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
4 cloves of garlic, grated on a microplane
2 hot chili peppers, sliced (I use jalapeno)
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

  1. Roast the seeds, cinnamon and star anise,
            grind into powder in a spice mill.
  1.  Place the lime zest and juice with the piquillo pimentos and remaining ingredients into a food processor.
  2. Blend to a paste and taste for seasoning. If you like, you can thin this down with more oil or lime juice to suit the flavors of accompanying dishes.
           The flavors will develop as the harissa sits. It will keep covered int he fridge      
           for a week.

Most people destroy their chicken on the grill. They over cook it, the flames are too high or they try to grill boneless, skinless chicken and wonder why their entire dinner stuck to the grill.
My favorite technique for grilling chicken is called Spatchcocking.  The back bone and sternum are cut out of the chicken and then the chicken is flattened by just pressing on it. The result is a moist bird that is easy to marinate, easy to grill because it cooks evenly and makes a great presentation.

 The flattened bird still has that moist juiciness that usually comes only with a whole roasted chicken and makes having roasted chicken a weeknight possibility. The whole bird cooks in about 30 minutes. Normally a whole roasted chicken takes over an hour  to cook. 

While spatchcocking sounds funny and complicated, it is actually very easy, but still funny sounding!  All you need are good sturdy kitchen shears.
Place the chicken breast side down on a sturdy cutting board. I like to put a couple of paper towels under the chicken so it does not slide while I am cutting it.

Cut along the either side of the backbone from the neck to the tail. Remove the back bone and spread open the chicken. Cut a small slit in the cartilage along the breast bone. With both hands, crack open the chicken by opening it like a book.

This will reveal the keel bone, (cartilage that runs in the middle of the breast). Pull up on the keel bone to remove it. The chicken is now ready to grill. This whole procedure is very simple, only involves cutting one bone and should only take a couple of minutes.


This is my favorite cake recipe. it is an old recipe that was from the second world war and necessary in the days of rationed eggs and other ingredients. I have modernized it with balsamic vinegar which gives the cake a rich flavor (not vinegary) and with the best cocoa powder in the world. I also added extra virgin olive oil instead of canola or vegetable oil. the best extra virgin olive oil is fruity and compliments the intense cocoa powder.

it is important to use a Dutch processed cocoa powder for this recipe as the acid in the vinegar combines with the cocoa powder and gives the cake it's lift. The gluten from the cake flour kicks in and provides the structure while the water makes the cake moist with a delicate crumb.

perfect for the 4th of July or any day.

Chef Laura’s Devil’s Food Cake

2 ½ cups of sugar
¾ cup of extra virgin olive oil
3 ½ cups of flour
¾ cup of best quality Dutch process cocoa powder-I prefer Valrhona
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 ¾ cups of water
1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line three 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the sugar and the oil in a mixing bowl fitted with a cake paddle.
  3. Sift the dry ingredient together. Combine the wet ingredients together.
  4. Alternately, add a third of dry and wet ingredients into the cake. Beat the batter after each addition. Do not over mix the cake, as it will be tough.
  5. Pour the cake batter immediately into the prepared pans. Bake the layers until they lightly spring back (about 25 minutes). Remove the cake pans and place on a cooling rack. Cool the layers completely before removing them from the pans. Dust them lightly with cocoa powder to prevent your hands from sticking to the layers.

Champagne glaze

¼-cup champagne
2/3 cup honey
6 ounces best quality dark chocolate, chopped (I use Callebaut)

  1. Heat the champagne and honey until the honey has dissolved. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Allow the mixture to stand until chocolate has melted. Whisk until smooth
  2. Place the cake on a wire rack positioned over parchment paper. Pour the glaze over the cake. Do not try to spread the glaze with a spatula or knife as it not be smooth and glossy.
  3. Chill the cake briefly to set the glaze.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Stinking Flower

Jews and garlic have had a long tempestuous relationship with garlic. The Talmud suggests that men eat garlic on the Sabbath because Friday was the night devoted to conjugal love. This testimonial from Ezra the Scribe: “garlic promotes love and arouses desire, “pretty much says it all but garlic was also used as a means to disgrace Jews with the term “foetor Judaicus,” the “Jewish stench” of degeneracy and garlic used as an anti-Semitic stereotype.

Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion family. Dating back over 6000 years, garlic has been a staple in Asia and the Mediterranean. Used for a variety of medical issues including stabilizing blood sugar, lowering blood pressure and treating infections and cancer, garlic is a useful component in medical laboratories as well as kitchens.

Most garlic used in home and professional kitchens is the familiar dried garlic. The phytochemicals produced when the garlic is “bruised” (chewed, chopped and crushed) are the plants natural defenses which are responsible for the “hot” pungent taste and strong lingering smell.  
Spring garlic is my favorite garlic. Tender green shoots and a bulb with tiny cloves that do not require peeling and a very soft and sweet garlic flavor makes spring garlic a standard in my spring arsenal.

This pesto is sweet and very herbaceous and not overwhelmingly garlicky. It is perfect schmeared on bread, dolloped on grilled steaks or drizzled on fish and pasta. Make a large batch and freeze some for later this summer. Spring Garlic pesto will keep frozen for up to 3 months.

Spring Garlic Pesto

Yields ½ cup
  • 1/4 pound spring garlic, beard and tips removed, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • ½ cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon walnuts, toasted
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Rough chop the garlic (use the green shoots and bulb) and basil. Place a large pan, lightly coated with olive oil, over medium high heat. Quickly sear the garlic and basil leaves for about 10 seconds. (this will help keep the color bright green)
  2. In a blender, mix the basil, spring garlic, and olive oil. Add the walnuts, salt, and pepper, and continue to blend until smooth.
Garlicky Potato Salad
Serves 5
  • 1 pound fingerling or favorite potatoes
  • ¼ cup Spring Garlic Pesto
  • ¼ cup homemade or purchased mayonnaise
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1 small fennel bulb, shaved on a mandolin
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  1. 1.       Bring a medium saucepan, filled halfway with water and potatoes, to a simmer. Cook the potatoes until they are tender. Drain and cool completely.
  2. 2.       Whisk the pesto and mayonnaise together. Toss the potatoes, onions and carrots together,
  3. 3.       Adjust seasoning to taste