Mama’s mashed potatoes

As mother’s day was quite recent it only seemed fitting that I post something terribly yummy and quite precious to my heart, taught to me by my mom. Now mom has been featured on the blog many times before but this recipe is really a family favorite. Every Thanksgiving mom makes these mashed potatoes and people come from miles around to eat them. In recent years my brother has taken on the task but it has always been under the watchful eye of mom. One of the beautiful things that she taught me about cooking was to always experiment, try new recipes, make up recipes and most of all cook with no fear. In that vein I decided to give this recipe a little kick with some rosemary and garlic but the rest is essentially the family method.

Thanks mom for this, one of hundreds of fantastic recipes with which you have graced the world.

You may not know this but mom also serves as on of the primary editors here on the Batter Junkie helping to make the prose as sweet as the recipes. Happy Mother’s Day and thank you and moms everywhere.

7-8 Large potatoes (red, yukon gold, whatever you like though they vary a little between species)
55 grams (1/2 a cube) of butter
1 cup of milk (to taste and texture)
2 tsp Angostura Bitters
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Optional addition:
2 Tbsp Chopped fresh Rosemary
5-6 cloves of garlic (chopped)
2 Tbsp olive oil

The way you usually start is to peel and quarter the potatoes. This is not entirely necessary if you like a bit-o-skin texture in there. I usually peel the bad bits off and leave on most of the skin. Then chop the potatoes in quarters and throw them in a large pot of boiling water. They will need to boil for about 25 minutes depending on how many potatoes you are doing.

Stick a fork in to one of them, if it slides away easily then you are all ready to go. Drain the water using a colander and place the potatoes in a large bowl.

If you have an electric mixer USE IT to beat them. If you do not then you’re in for a bit of an arm ache. Whip them while they are hot and toss in a little bit of the milk to soften the mixture. Once it has started to become smooth throw in the butter. Sweet sweet butter!

Add a little more milk and the bitters, salt and pepper. Make sure to taste it often.

In a small fry pan toss in the olive oil, garlic and rosemary. Saute for about 2 minutes until they make your kitchen smells like a small Greek village. Mix them in with the potatoes.

Now if you don’t have your guests coming for a while you can put them in the oven. This is a good plan if you don’t have a microwave. I put mine in an over safe bowl and turned it on 350 for about 15 minutes. That way the top of the mashed potatoes is a tiny bit crispy and it adds a nice texture.

As Richard Dryfus would say: “This means something.” Maybe we were looking for this?

Dad, Mom and me standing in front of a mashed potato sculpture,

These are amazing with gravy (the potatoes, not the people), fantastic with nothing but salt and pepper and a whiz with some steak and salad. Please enjoy them as much as our family has.

Love to all.

Our family Pesto

Pesto one of those universal foods that almost anyone can get behind, and here it is folks for your cooking enjoyment. Pesto comes from the Genoese word pestâ which literally means pounded or smushed. Long ago this dish was made by grinding together the ingredients in a mortar and pestle. Since we generally don’t have the time or patience for that, we used a blender. We’ve been making this since I was a bambino growing up in northern Italy.

2 c. fresh basil leaves
1/3 c. olive oil
2 Tbsp. pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
3/4 tsp. salt

Add to:
500kg (12-16 oz.) Rotini or spiral pasta, cooked al dente, drained leaving 1-2 T. cooking liquid
1-2 T. butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 T. grated Romano pecorino cheese may be added if you’ve got it lying around. I find that if you don’t already have it, Romano adds a lot of cost to a relatively inexpensive meal, so your call cowboy.

I can’t really get my head around making the directions for this interesting. Let me put it this way, I could already be done with the directions, I’m just stalling so you keep reading.

Blend the living crap out of the first 5 ingredients. 2 cups of basil is hard to judge so I generally use about 2, 4oz boxes from Trader Joe’s.

If you’re in a part of the world without a Trader Joe’s, firstly, I’m sorry for you, but secondly I’m sure in your country, basil is not more expensive than Salmon which it is in the US.

Once the ingredients are nicely blended add them to 12oz or so of the pasta being careful to leave a little of the water in which you cooked the pasta. Add the butter and grated Parmesan and Romano if you’re a high roller! Mix it all together in the pot, and you got yourself a home-cooked meal to die for.
 Make sure to mix the pesto in with the noodles before you take it out of the pot. That way they get coated better.

(no picture available as I was too busy eating!)


North Indian style Spinach Chicken

I know, I know. March was sadly the first month since the start of the blog (over a year ago now) that I did not post a recipe. It turns out the whole full time job thing just changes everything. Excuses. On to the stuff you care about.
So here is a recipe that is easy and amazing. For the purest Indian food connoisseurs this may be a Sunset magazine bastardization of a traditional food but, sweet mother, is it tasty! Beth, O Beth you always bring such lovely things into my life notwithstanding yourself. Beth, Rana, Meg (incidentally three of my favorite people) and I all made this one night and it left us all with smiles. Maybe that was the wine but I think that this dish had at least a passing influence on the success of our night.


3 tsp saffola or canola oil (any veggie oil will work)
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
225 grams (8oz) crimini or button mushrooms (sliced)
1 large onion (chopped)
2 inch long piece of ginger (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 tsp ground coriander (if you don’t have this I just throw in more cilantro they’re from the same plant!)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayanne pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
600 grams (1 and 1/2 lbs) chicken breast (cut into 1 inch chunks)
1 cup of canned, diced tomatoes
450 grams (1 lb) baby spinach
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 a bunch of cilantro
Also, don’t forget to make some rice.

Ok so first start by getting 3 hot young ladies! Check! Then you toss some of that oil in a pot and drop in the fenugreek seeds for about 2 seconds. “What the hell is feungreek?” I hear you say. Only the warrior monks of a hidden Chinese fishing village know but they’re not telling. Regardless it adds a nice flavor. Don’t let them get too lonely (the ladies or the seeds). Now gets to sauteing the onions and add those mushrooms right in there.

 Stir that mixture around for about 7 minutes. During this time I would suggest flirting with the ladies, perhaps telling a funny story or throwing down some dance moves. However you work your groove…

At this point add the ginger, garlic, coriander, salt, cumin, cayanne and turmeric to the pot. Then add in the cut chicken and stir until it is no longer pink on the outside. Then add the tomatoes and cover the pot, simmering for about 8 minutes.

Take this time, once again to regale the ladies with a heroic tale of when you fought off a bear with a spoon while camping in Zimbabwe.

At this point stir in the spinach, lemon juice and cilantro and you’re done. But that’s just where we got started!

Serve it up with your favorite wine or beverage.



Oh, it’s on muthas! So the amazing and exciting Kim invited Rana and me over for wontons the other night. I was so excited because I haven’t made them since I was a wee one. When I was little my grandmother would talk about her friend Sally who was the mother of a famous bay area chef, Martin Yan, who had his own show on PBS called, “Yan Can Cook.” This show, that grandma and my brother and I watched religiously, was responsible for teaching me (with some assistance from the folks) how to chop vegetables. Every time I make Chinese food I think of Yan Can Cook and my grandma. The following is as close to Kim’s actual words as I could make it.

One package of Wonton wrappers

Da Filling:
500 gr (1lb) of ground beef or pork
4-5 scallions sliced
6oz (about a bag) of spinach boiled for 1 min just so it is wilted
2-3 inch chunk of fresh ginger grated
bit o salt
bit o pepper
bit o sesame oil
bit o soy sauce
pinch o brown sugar

Dipping sauce:
1 clove crushed garlic
4-5 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp hot chili oil/siracha
2 tsp sesame oil

The first thing you need to do is mix everything under filling together in a bowl. I know it’s raw meat but get over yourself and just get in there.

Those of fainter heart use a spoon. However, my rule is if you can’t touch it, you shouldn’t eat it. Just sayin’.batterjunkie-1

batterjunkie-5      BRAINS!!! (I would not eat the raw meat lest you become a zombie)batterjunkie-2

Place a small spoonful of meat just smaller than a meatball in the middle of the wonton wrapper, then wrap it up, bitch! Below are pictures of how to wrap it. Basically, get a glass of water and wet your fingers. Slide them wantonlyover two edges of the squares. Perpendicular, yo.

Then with the care of sensual wonton-lover fold the squares over into triangles, sealing the meatball in its doughy prison.batterjunkie-3

Then fold over the tips so you have a little thing that looks like you have mail from the dough-fairy. Or as Rana says it looks like a little wonton hug!batterjunkie-6

Once you run out of meat you’re ready to boil those little babies! Boil them for about 3 min, they should be floating on the surface at that point. When they float you be done! Serve with rice…if you’ve been reading, you know I won’t teach you how to do rice. It’s just not worth a whole post.batterjunkie-7

If you have any left over meat you can simply fry it up and munch on it while you’re waiting.

Before you start boiling I would put together the dippin’ sauce. Just mix the ingredients in a bowl. If you can’t handle raw garlic (you insufferable wimp) then fry it in olive oil for about 1 minute before putting it in.

These are fast and fun and can be frozen for a later meal. If you plan to freeze them, do so before you boil them. Then when you’re hungry you just pot them into a boiling pot. Yeah, y’all. Go cook some Chinese!

Marissa’s Pie Crust

Here she is again. Popping up where you least expect her, Marissa. Half a world away and she’s still a wonderful active contributor to the blog. This crust is yum and pretty much (you thought I wouldn’t say it but I kind of have to) easy as pie. We used it for our pumpkin pie but you can choose any filling you like.


1 and 1/2 cups flour
1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter (not hard, but not too soft because that makes the dough hard to work with)
1 cup cold water

Directions: First mix salt and flour. You know you want to so just do it. Cut the butta into the flour with two knives until it turns into crumbles. Now when I say cut, it isn’t in the “I’ll cut you” kind of low budget mexican ganster film way. We just use butter knives here. Although pictured is a bad-ass kitchen implement if you’re doing a lot of baking. She’s called a pastry cutter, and this one’s named Cassandra.


Then pour the water into the dry ingredients and get your hands in there! Marissa says, “I like to start mixing with one of the knifes or a spoon, and then finish up with the dough between my fingers.”

Mix until uniform and then split into two balls (just a standard Saturday night for some of us). Wrap it up, swaddle it (if you will) in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for about an hour or so until it firms up. Marissa says, “If you don’t have time for this step, it’s not critical, but it just makes the rolling process a little easier.” I don’t know about you but when it’s firmed up the rolling process is always easier.


When that puppy’s good and firm, roll it out on a floured surface and get your pie on! Grease the pie pan.


Once you’ve got it big enough for the pie pan you can use a simple trick to get it in there. Roll the dough up onto the rolling pin, drape it over the pan and unroll it. Now crimp the edges like it aint no thang and viola, you’s a masterbaker!


We filled it with a secret concoction of pumpkin pie-ish stuff. You can fill it with pretty much what ever you want: meat, fruits, and if you like Stephen Sondheim you can fill it with people who’ve done you wrong in the past…


Potato Plum Dumplings

First of all I want to apologize to Ivana because she sent this to me like a million years ago and now plums are out of season and well, crap. The lovely Ivana is the only Batter Junkie to ever guest blog twice, well with the exception of dear mama. Here is a scrumptious recipe from Croatia filled with potatoey plum goodness. Make sure to make 15 of them because they’ll be going fast. For those of you who are wondering they are kind of different but they are so yummy!

15 seedless plums
3 cups of flour
3 large potatoes
1 egg
1 Tbsp of butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp of baking powder
sugar for the plums

How to do it:
Cook the potatoes with their peel. After they are done, let them cool a bit and remove their peel. In one bowl sift flour, add potatoes, egg, baking powder, salt and butter. Mix together and make fine dough. In case the dough falls apart a bit, you can add a bit of milk.
Roll out the dough and cut into small 15 pieces.
Make sure the plums are pitted. If you fail to do this your dumplings could be a little too crunchy. Fill the plums with sugar and put them on each piece of dough. Fold the dough around the plums to make little balls. Put the balls into heating salty water and cook them until they come to the surface.
In a baking tray, mix a lot of vegetable oil and breadcrumbs. Roll each ball into this and put them in an oven for 10 minutes (200′).
Serve them warm with sugar or sour cream.
Dobar tekThanks Ivana

Olive, Onion Lavender Bread

The new company with which I work was kind enough to send me a gift this holiday season. It was a Lavender themed cookbook named appropriately, “The Lavender Cookbook.”

Well, all of you at Amaxra, thank you! So what do you do when you get a new cookbook?  Most of us put it on the shelf and pretend that we might at one time crack it open (when you have company for dinner). I decided to take the initiative make a lavender themed something or other. As luck would have it, it was tasty, so it made the blog!

1 cup warm water (about 100 degrees)
2 and 1/2 tsp dry yeast
1 cup warm milk
2/3 cup coarsely chopped olives
2/3 cup chopped onion
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp lavender buds
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup corn meal
2 cups whole wheat flour
3-3 and 1/2 cups white flour

Let’s froth up this bread! First pour the warm water into a large bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let that sit aside and get all foamy.  The yeast activating is always a fun process. You look away for a munite and when you look back, you’ve created life!

Then add in the warm milk, onions, olives, butter, lavender, sugar, salt, pepper and cornmeal. Then add in the wheat flour and beat it all together.

This will form a sticky thick dough. Don’t be alarmed. It’s OK if it sticks to your hands. Add the white flour 1 cup at a time.

Get in there and knead it (press the dough over and over on a flat surface) for a few minutes. Once most of the white flour is incorporated, roll the bread into a ball and place it in grease bowl. Now comes the waiting…cover the bowl with a towel and let it rise for about 1 and 1/2 hours until it has doubled in size.

***If it doesn’t change size, your yeast is dead and you’re out of luck. Enjoy your unleavened bread! If this happens mabye order Thai food.

During this time you can call Russia, get a shiatsu massage, or drink a few shots of bourbon. Whatever you deem most relaxing.

Once your dough has risen, punch it down like a kitchen prize fighter. It will deflate like my shattered ego. Divide it in two and roll those bits into balls.

Place them on a baking sheet (or pizza stone if you’re fancy) sprinkled with some more corn meal. Preheat your oven to 180 C (350 F). Let them rise again for about 30-45 minutes.

Now toss those little buns in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes.  I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is yes, but I wasn’t proud of it and they let me keep the tutu. Moving on…I meant to say, “doesn’t this take a long time?” Yes, but it is worth it.

Remove from the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes to cool. Cut into slices and serve with olive oil and cheeses.


Labels: bread, lavender, olives

Eggplant stuffed with Goat Cheese (Peynirli Patlıcan)

MY DARLINGS! How have you been? I know it has been a long time and I am sorry. I will not make excuses, just post some recipes! This one will make it up to you, I hope!

Rana and I had this at a Peace Corps party thrown by a family friend every year in Seattle. One of the attendees brought this and we were so blown away by its flavor we asked him for the recipe. Now this doesn’t really fall into the “super healthy” category because of the large amounts of oil but it’s so good you won’t care. Let us begin!

3 aubergines (eggplants)
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp minced dill
1 cup toasted breadcrumbs
1 cup olive oil for frying
1 cup soft white cheese
2 Tbsp minced parsley
1 tsp minced chives
1 tsp garlic salt

Cut off the tops of the aubergines and peel off the skins.

Cut the aubergines into four, lengthwise pieces sprinkle generously with salt and let sit for 30 minutes. I cut mine into more pieces because I was using American eggplant which is much bigger. I got about 5-6, 3/4-inch thick pieces out of each eggplant. Wash well, dry and fry in olive oil until pale brown. Now find a nice spot where someone won’t eat them, and leave them to cool.

In a bowl, mash the cheese with a fork, add salt, parsley, dill, chives and 2 of the eggs and mix well together.

Spread this mixture over half of the aubergines, cut sides upwards, and arrange the
other half of the aubergines on top, like a sandwich. This was messy so we don’t have a picture.

Beat the other two eggs lightly and roll the aubergine sandwiches in the egg.  Then roll the eggy aubergine sandwich in the the bread crumbs. I recommend putting the eggs in a shallow plate and the same with the crumbs.

Fry in olive oil for 3-4 mintues, on each side and serve hot. You don’t have to serve hot but your public will absolutely love you if you do. These can be made ahead of time and are just as yummy.

Once they become golden brown on each side you know you’re done. Now it’s time to munch on a very tasty dinner treat! 

Enjoy kids!

Labels: dinner, eggplant, goat cheese, Turkish

Empanadas de Omaira

Empanadas are a Spanish, Portuguese and South American treat. They should not be missed by any means for any reason. The other night the beautiful and talented Omaira, a Venezuelan friend, made her mother’s recipe for us! Prepare to get quite hungry while reading this post. It’s just going to happen. There’s nothing you can do about it.

Empanada dough
white corn meal flour (Harina de Maiz Blanco)

Potatoes: 4 red potatoes
1 Tbsp butter
Grated cheese
Beef: 225 grams (1/2 pound) ground beef
Your choice of spices for meat*
1/2 onion

Chicken: 225 grams (1/2 pound) chicken breast
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 onion quartered
1/2 onion chopped

Other needed items
Saffola oil for frying
1 Large block of cheddar cheese

Think that’s about right but I’m doing this from memory and considerable amounts of wine were involved. Ok, so here’s how you make these lovelies.

We made 2 different kinds of empanadas because, well, we could. If you want you could put only one kind of thing inside. It is really up to you.

First start by peeling and boiling the potatoes (in that order). This is an important step with which to start because much like the pot pies the potatoes have to be done before you make the empanadas. Once they are boiled (about 20-30 minutes) drain them and mash those puppies up! While mashing, add salt and pepper to taste and a good amount of grated cheese. Set aside.

Next chop up an onion and divide it into two equal piles. In a fry pan brown the ground beef. (*I add about 2 tsp of oregano, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste). Once it has begun to brown, add in the onions. Once everything is cooked. Set aside.

In a small pot boil about 2 cups of chicken broth. Quarter half of an onion and add it to the broth. Toss in the chicken and allow it to boil until it is done (about 10 minutes). Once it has boiled and is done in the middle, remove from heat, throw away the broth and boiled onion, and toss the chicken in a bowl. With two forks, shred the chicken. In a fry pan add the remaining half of the chopped onion and toss in the chicken. Spice as you like. Set aside.

Omaira attempts to teach Devon “the way.”

Now we’re cooking with gas. All you have to do is make the dough and you’re ready to go!
In a large bowl pour about 1-2 cups of water. Add in about 2 cups of corn meal flour and a tsp or so of salt. Mix it around with your hands. It should form a light not-quite-wet dough. This is a bit tricky so don’t be frustrated. I had an expert to teach me!

Once your dough is ready, roll it into balls roughly the size of a clementine. Then get out some plastic wrap and place it on a flat surface. Add a little Saffola to your hands (or whatever oil you’re using) and add some to the plastic wrap as well. This will keep it from sticking. Then, grab your balls!

Press the ball down with your hands onto the plastic wrap making a flat disc. Push in the sides to avoid cracks. Once the disc is about 1/4 inch thick you are ready to fill it.

Stick your meat on one side of the disc making sure not to add too much. I think you know where we are going. It must be a small enough amount of meat so the empanada can close. Add some cheese. Once your meat is in place, use the plastic wrap to fold up so the other half of the disc, without meat,  over the half with meat. Like this:

Through the plastic wrap press down on the edges so that the empanada seals. It should now look like a little half moon. Using a small cereal bowl or really any kind of bowl you might have around, press along the edge of the empanada (through the plastic) with the edge of the bowl, to create a nice edge. Repeat until you have used all of the dough.

We put the beef by itself most of the time and paired up the chicken filling with the potato. Yumtastic.

In about a half an inch of Saffola oil fry each empanada on each side for about 4-5 minutes.

Rana looks on as Devon attempts his first solo empanada.

That’s about it. These are one of those labors of love. Once you know how to make them, you’ll wonder why you haven’t done it all of your life.

An excited group of empanada eaters!

A huge thanks to Omaira Borges, our amazing friend who shared her family recipe with us! Until next time, Enjoy!

Labels: Venezuelan, dinner, main, meat

Personal Chicken Pot Pies

So mom says she’s making these personal pot pies and I say, “No kidding?” She says yeah, they’re easy and yummy and you should try them so I did. Wow was she right. Though in my inimitable fashion I changed the recipe a bit.

1/2 package of refrigerated pie dough
1 Tbsp olive oil 
1/2 onion (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 cups chopped chicken breast
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup of milk
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup carrot (chopped)
1/2 cup broccoli (chopped)
1/2 cup mushrooms (sliced)
1/2 – 1 cup boiled potatoes (chopped) 2 small reds

Extra stuff:
4 oven safe bowls (often called ramekins)

The first thing you need to do is chop up the potatoes and start boiling them. This takes about 20 minutes so start right away.

Next roll out your pie dough into roughly a 12 inch circle. Place the four oven safe bowls upside down on the dough and with a knife cut around them. Now you will have 4 little pie crusts for your 4 bowls.

Preheat the oven to 230 C (450 F).

In a largish pot add about a 1 Tbsp olive oil and toss in the onions. Sauté for about 2 minutes and add the garlic. Then toss in the chicken.

In a small bowl mix milk flour sour cream and chicken stock. Once the chicken is browned add the milk mixture to the pot. Then add salt and pepper.

Once the milk mixture is incorporated add the veggies and mushrooms.

Drain the potatoes and toss them into the pot as well. Mix them all up.

Now divide the chicken mixture into 4 bowls. Cut a few slits in the top of each dough topper and place them onto each oven safe bowl.

Place each crust over the pie and use a spoon to press down the edges on the sides. This keeps the whole thing intact. Now brush a little melted butter or oil over the top of each pie.

Throw them all in the oven for 15-18 minutes. Once the crusts start to turn a bit brown, they’re done. These are great for dinner parties and so easy to make you may become addicted.

Enjoy these and thank my mom with every bite!

Goat Cheese Rosemary Savory Muffins

Hey yall. These are fast muffins. I mean really fast. You don’t even have to buy them a drink to take them to bed. If you need a not sweet portable breakfasty treat, these are perfect. That said you can also have them with a savory dinner instead of rolls. For some reason goat cheese is the new ingredient of choice this year. Watch out for this soft flavorful queso, it’s gonna be a star.
Ok, lets get started!

2 and 1/4 cups flour
2 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp fresh rosemary
3 Tbsp fresh or dried oregano
2 eggs
6 Tbsp butter (melt it!)
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
224 grams (8 oz) goat cheese
1/2 cup grated goat cheese (or your favorite grate-able cheese)

Plunk that oven up to 175 C (350 F).

In a mid-sized bowl whisk together the dry ingredients, flour, baking powder, salt rosemary and oregano.

In another bowl mix, yes yes you know it, the wet ingredients, eggs, butter, milk, sour cream and goat cheeses. You can also add some cut up fruit for a kick if you like.

Now gently fold the two together. As you do it be careful to just stir just enough to get the wet and dry mixed. This process will keep your muffins fluffy!

OK now grease the muffin tin or little paper cups if you roll that way, and divide the batter evenly between the 12 cups. It will pretty much fill them all full. That reminds me, Maja, how is my long lost muffin tin doing in Barcelona? I am jealous of that muffin tin.

Now toss these puppies in your warmed up oven and let them bake for about 20-25 minutes until they look roughly like this:

Once they are slightly brown on top, they’re done!


Labels: muffins, savory, goat cheese, breakfast, dinner

Moroccan Chicken

Mom has been making this one for many years and it has become a family favorite! Being that it is her birthday I think it’s fitting that I post one of her recipes. Happy birthday ma! Thanks for all of the cooking advice through the years.

Moroccan Chicken will literally change your life. Once you’ve had it you’re not the same, you’re changed. You will think about it nightly and when your friend or sweetie or who ever is around asks, “What shall we have for dinner?” you’ll generally gravitate to a demure response, under your breath, of “Moroccan Chicken?”

Lets get started.


2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander (cilantro)
½ tsp (or to taste) cayenne pepper
salt to taste
1 ½ lbs chicken breasts cut in bite sized pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 tsp grated ginger root
3 cloves minced garlic
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups chopped canned tomatoes
2 cups garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained)
3/4 cup halved kalamata olives
½ cup raisins
2 Tbsp honey
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp cinnamon
Make a cup or two of the rice of your choosing at the beginning. As I have said before, if you can’t make rice, I may not be able to help you.
Last Friday eve, the kind and magnanimous Eric and Ceres had Rana and me to dinner. Of course we immediately thought of Moroccan chicken because well…we already talked about that.
In a shallow bowl toss the first five ingredients. Chop up the chicken into about 1/2 inch squares and dredge them (roll them around) in the spices. Do about half of the chicken at a time. In a large skillet add a little bit of olive oil and brown the chicken. Try to only turn the chicken once.

Remove the chicken from the skillet and set it aside.
Frivolously toss the onion into the skillet for 3 minutes. Haphazardly add the garlic, ginger, broth and sauté for about 5 minutes. Make sure to drink some wine during this stage. Why? Well, just because wine is nice.
Add in the remaining ingredients and, you guessed it, the chicken. Cover that puppy and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. At the end, remove the bay leaf. It’s not good for eating.
Once you’re done why not toss a scoop of Moroccan chicken over some of the rice, maybe throw a pita bread on there? It’s a thought.
I hope you enjoy this as much as Rana, Eric, Ceres and I did. Maybe even as much as little Wicket (Ceres and Eric’s dog). If it doesn’t turn out right the first time, don’t get too crabby. :)


Arepas Colombianos

So I know what you’re thinking. Devo aren’t you supposed to put new recipes on the blog rather than recycling old ones? Well, technically yes but today I have learned a very different way to make a dish that is already up here. I learned this from my new and amazing friend Harold Belskus of the Band A Cedar Suede. Check it out. His/their music is amazing.

Harold’s mamasita, Liliana, who I have had the good fortune to meet is from Colombia and she learned how to make arepas from her mother and her mother before her and so on, ad infinitum. This recipe, like so many others before it, is a “feel” recipe. That means it may take a few tries to make it perfectly because you have to get the dough just right. Let’s begin, I can hear you stomach rumbling.

1 and1/2 cups Masa harina (white corn flour)
1 tsp salt
1tsp sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp butter
warm water from the tap
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (or whatever cheese you like)
Some butter for basting

Optional Toppings:
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced Avocado
Scrambled eggs
Extra Cheese

All doughs are a sensual and moving experience to make. This one is ecstasy as you are making the equivalent of adult play-dough. Believe me it gets more adult as you go. :) In a bowl mix the dry corn flour, salt and sugar.

In a small sauce pan heat up the milk and butter together. If it doesn’t seem to be heating up, put on a Barry White album and open a bottle of champagne. That should set the mood….ahhh yeah down by the fireside. Do not burn the milk/butter mixture. You want it about 100 degrees. If you put your finger in and it hurts, it’s way too hot. Getting more adult now!

Once the butter and milk mixture is the right temperature, slowly pour it into the dry flour in the bowl, mixing it, as per Harold, with one finger only. In other words, don’t use a spoon, this dough likes to be touched.

Add a little warm water from the tap and start to fold and press the dough together with your hands. It should start to firm up as you add a little more water. You want the dough to be spongy and not dry. If it appears too dry, add some more water but do it just a little at a time.

The dough should be springy now and light to the touch. Rip off a small amount about the size of a …um…ping pong ball, and roll it into a ball. Carefully take the index finger of the hand now holding the ball and push it into the arepa. As you do make sure to kind of hollow it out as you go, making room for delicious cheese. Told you it’d get more adult. It got weird didn’t it?

Heat up a fry pan on the stove.

Now stuff that puppy full of cheese like you are a beer wench at Oktoberfest filling liters. Once you’ve got it mostly full, close the top over the cheese.

Now flatten the arepa in your hands, making sure not to break it. You don’t want cracks in the edges. If all of your arepas are cracking, your dough is not wet enough. Moisten it up it that’s the case, genius.

Flatten it until it’s about 1 cm thick. This style cooks much more quickly than the Venezuelan version.

Now spread a little butter onto one side and place that side down in the pan.

Let it brown over meduim heat for a few minutes and then flip it.

Top with more cheese, avocado, tomato and love.

Look, happy arepa eaters!

Wow, what a recipe: it had heavy petting, massaging, penetrating dough and finally basting with butter. I think I need to lie down…

Labels:  Colombian, breakfast

Talapia in Shallot Butter Roux

Can you tell I’ve been hanging out in the Northwest again? This is yet another of Marissa’s genius recipes that I can’t seem eat enough. If you don’t like white fish this is a great way to make it. If you do like white fish your head just might explode from the awesomeness. I find that it is best to try to use fresh fish if you can but frozen is OK. Oh and FYI roux is just a fancy way to say gravy. I won’t tell if you don’t.

1/2 kilo (1 lb) of white fish (cod, halibut, something of that ilk)
2 shallots chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 lemon
1/4 cup or so of white wine
salt and pepper to taste
dried red chili pepper flakes to taste
1/4 cup flour or so to make the roux

So here’s how me make it. Get out a big fry pan that has a lid (Get the lid out as well. Do I have to tell you everything?) and drop in your butter. Now Paula Deen, at this point would be disgraced that I was using so little but she’ll live (a little longer). Add in the shallots and let them simmer for about 5-10 minutes until they are soft.

Now add the slippery slimy fish fillets, so innocent, so tender to the pan. Try to get them all touching (Ooo, like a party I went to once) the pan but if your pan is too small (a personal problem) then just kind of stack them all in there.

Pour the white wine and squirt your lemon juice all over the fish. Add salt, pepper and chili peppers to taste. At this point lower the heat to medium, maybe medium-low if you’re courageous, and put the lid on. This will kind of steam the fish, give it a little fishy sauna if you will. It only takes about 5-8 minutes to cook.

Once the fish is kind of firm and yields easily to the touch, it is ready. Remove the fish from the pan. Whisper to it, “I’ll call you tomorrow fish, I swear,” then toss it on a plate, and set it aside. Leave the juices behind in the pan. (we’ll just take that joke, as read)

Now you need to make the roux. Add flour slowly to the juices left in the pan. By slowly I mean about one tablespoon at a time. With the heat on low stir the flour into the liquid. If there is very little liquid add some more white wine. This is a feel thing, like so many other things in life, you have to respond to the needs of the roux, touch it, love it, caress it, to make it really come together. Fry it, FRY it, FRY IT, until it forms into a thin sauce, ohhh yeahhh.

Pour that liquid love all over your fish in a splendid finale and collapse with exhaustion as you serve it to your salivating guests. It looks a mess but tastes like golden flavored kisses.

I love it when a lovely supple fish comes together, and so will you.


Labels: fish, shallots, roux, main

Goat Cheese and Pear Salad with Fig vinaigrette

In the spirit of getting healthy, here is a tasty salad recipe. I found this on cooking light, a fantastic little site that helps us all have slightly less weighty meals. Kim and I were yet again pressed for time because of our strict schedule of eating chocolate and watching movies so this was the perfect dish. It is hearty but doesn’t take too long to make.


6 cups mixed salad greens (Romain, arugula whatever strikes your fancy)
1-1/2 cups thinly, sliced, pear (leave the skin on for flavor)
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
5 dried figs chopped up
6 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp minced shallots
1 tsp fresh thyme chopped
2 garlic cloves minced

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

Make sure to chop the figs to pieces and cut off their dignity (stems). Then further humiliate them by tossing them in a small saucepan over high heat with balsamic vinegar.  Once the mixture boils, lower heat and simmer until the total amount of liquid is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 5 minutes.

 If you have one, pour your shamed fig mixture into a blender with the water and fresh lemon juice and process until smooth. If you don’t have a blender, man, I don’t know what to tell. Just whisk that puppy up with a fork.

In a bowl pour the blended fig mixture in with shallots, thyme, crushed garlic, olive oil and salt.  Stir it up like your dinner depended on it. Well it does.

Thinly slice your pear, leaving the skin on. We wouldn’t want the pear to feel nude, or would we? 

Place 1 cup of greens on each plate. Now put a little pear and goat cheese hat on each serving and drizzle the vinaigrette like it’s a hot oil message. “Yes you little greens are going to love this. I’m just gonna drizzle this on and then mix it in. Uh! Ju look sooo yummy.” Sorry, sometimes I get carried away and channel my inner Puerto Rican drag queen. He would say something like that. 

Serve and you have a happy table.
I can’t actually tell what expression that is, Kim.


Labels: Salad, main, goat cheese,

Mama’s Homemade Frittata

This bad boy is good for breakfast and dinner or whenever you be wanting it. I love me some Frittata and my mom makes the best. On a recent trip home I met up with some wonderful friends from my time in Turkey and we had dinner at the folks. Frittata was on the menu! Things always seem to turn out tasty when that is the case.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 onion minced
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper,
1 tsp basil and oregano
1/2 tsp each rosemary and thyme
6 large mushrooms sliced
2 small zucchinis sliced
1 red bell pepper diced
250 grams (1/2 pound) spinach
6-7 eggs
about 10 slices of mozzarella
Parmesan cheese to taste

Preheat to 180 C (350 F).

Grease a large oven-proof pot. This is an important step because if it’s not oven proof the whole shebang won’t work. Mom usually does this with cooking spray but you can use oil or butter. Heat the pot to medium heat. Pour in the olive oil and butter. Drop in the minced onion yelling something like, “It snowing flavor chunks” as you do. Make sure to open the windows so that your neighbors know that you talk to your food. Simmer for a few minutes and toss in the garlic.

Now add the spices. Toss them all in salt, pepper, basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme. At this point if you’re over the age of 50 you’re thinking, “Are we going to Scarborough Fair?” If you’re under the age of 30 you’re probably thinking, “I have to buy all of those spices?” Either way, add them. Then toss in your mushrooms zucchinis and peppers and give the whole thing a stir.

Once those have simmered for a few minutes throw in the giant wad of spinach. It will take over the pot like a great green afro. Don’t worry. Give the spinach a few minutes and it will kind of wilt down, reducing greatly in size.

Turn up the heat and pour in the beaten eggs. Cook briefly, lifting the edges with a spatula and turning the pan , so the liquid egg comes in contact with the pan.  The egg will start to set. Once that happens, the magic that is cheese is revealed. Place slices of mozzarella over the mixture until it is completely covered. Grate on some Parmesan cheese and toss the whole pot (remember to have used an over safe pot) right into the oven. Bake if for about 15 minutes to melt the cheese and just like that, you’re done.

Cut that veggie pie into squares or whatever geometric shape follows your fancy.

Serve and enjoy with friends!

Labels: eggs, breakfast, dinner, main, vegetarian

Gnocchi the wonder pasta!

So the lovely Ben and Linh asked me to make some Italian food for them. I thought, why not try something I’ve never tired out on dinner guests? What could go wrong? So I had some potatoes and, well, I heard you could make amazing yumminess with them. I thought, why not? I have heard that gnocchi was hard not only to pronounce (nyo kee) but also to make. It really isn’t that hard but you’ll have to be careful to follow my directions…EXACTLY!

Ok, so first go find an old Italian women with nothing to do and have her teach you everything she knows about making gnocchi. If that falls through, read on.

2 pounds of starchy potatoes (2 large russets)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup of flour
 salt  to taste.

The first thing you’ll need to do is put a pot of water on that can submerge the potatoes. Wash those little russets off, cut them in half and toss them in. Salt the water and watch it boil. Once it is boiling it should take about 30-40 minutes to boil the potatoes. Once you can stick a knife through one with a little resistance they are done. Be careful not to overcook them. This will ruin you gnocchi. Once they start absorbing too much water this will adversely affect your final product.

Next take the potatoes out of the water and skin those naughty potatoes like you’re taking off a lover’s clothes. Quickly and with reckless abandon! No really do it quickly cause they will be hot and you will burn your hands. SAVE the potato water in the pot.

Then take the potatoes and using a potato ricer (I don’t even know what that is) (UPDATE from Simone: Ricer) or a fork shred the potatoes into tiny pieces. You want to make sure that there are very few big lumps here. DO NOT put it in the food processor. You will ruin the gnocchi.

Once they are all shredded, mold them into a mound, yeah, like the scene in Ghost. You all know what I’m talking about. Make a little divot in the middle and pour in the egg and sprinkle the whole thing with about half of your flour. Using a knife cut and scrape the flour into the dough. Once it is all incorporated it should be a nice light fluffy dough. If it is too sticky add more flour, but you already know that.

Now divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a long snake about 1/2 an inch wide. Now chop up that little snake, cutting it into 1 inch pieces. Once you have all of this done you’ll realize why you don’t make gnocchi for just anyone. It’s a labor of love.

Take each piece and roll it on a fork to give it little grooves. This step can be skipped if you are pressed for time. Then boil the water and toss in the gnocchi in batches of about 20.

When they rise to the top of the water, they’re done! Congratulations.

You’ve done it. Though there is an Italian grandmother somewhere rolling her eyes.

Simple pesto
Mix together:
1 bunch chopped basil
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbs of raw pine nuts
3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano
2 Tbsp (to taste) Extra virgin olive oil
1 Juice from a quarter of a lemon

Use the tomato sauce from Melanzane alla Parmigiana.

We made both!  Happy Ben and Linh!
Apply the sauces to the gnocchi in a bowl and mix. Yumm. We applied on top because Linh didn’t want it to be all or nothing. I know Simone, you are supposed to always mix pasta with the sauce in the bowl!


Labels: potatoes, Italian, pasta, gnocchi

French Garlic Soup and Garlic Bread

Garlic, ah the sweet aroma that from 100 meters away can entice, entrance and invigorate. This recipe will have anyone eating out of your hand in minutes. Clarification: they won’t be eating the soup out of your hands as that would be logistically foolhardy and probably cause serious burns. It’s just an expression, come on, get with the program. Jeeze. Moving along.

You don’t even really have to like garlic for this soup to be utterly awesome. It takes on a mellowed out flavor because you roast the garlic in the oven for a while. So if you have a garlic hater in your life, (I would suggest getting rid of them, but that’s me) try this out and see what they say then. I first discovered this recipe while in Turkey, though it is French, and my mom helped me perfect it.

P.S. I know the recipe seems long but once you make it once, it is quite easy to repeat.

Ingredients for Garlic Soup:
4 heads of garlic (yes, the whole head, intact)
1/4 cup or so of olive oil
1 liter of water/ chicken stock
One package for fresh thyme (or rosemary or your favorite spice.)
about 1/4 cup flour
1/2 package thin egg noodles (don’t add too many)
salt and pepper to taste
fresh chopped parsley on top.

Ingredients for Garlic Bread:
4-6 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1 fresh baguette (or whatever bread you prefer)

Turn your oven on to 200 C (400 F)

The Soup!

The real genius here is the way you roast the garlic. The first thing you need to do it cut the heads of garlic in half, horizontally. Look at the picture to see how it is done (thanks Kim’s hands). Don’t peel them at all for the skin will act as a protective covering for the roasting procedure.

Croatian Fish Soup

Many of you may know that over the past two weeks the Batter Junkie has been forced to compromise between his two favorite past times, Cooking and Traveling. (Well, at least his two favorite PG-rated past times) Rana and I spent the last two weeks in the intolerably wonderful care of Ivana, Ines and Amela not to mention many other extremely kind Croatians. Can I just for a moment plug the country? Ok, well I’m going to anyway. Croatia is a beautiful, amazing, yummying and loving place. The people there also have a strong connection to the sea as Croatia is not only mostly coastline, but consists of an archipelago of over 1000 islands along its coast. Yeah, 1000, and I only got to explore one!

That brings us to our recipe, which comes straight from the ancestral home of Ivana, fish soup. Early one morning Ivana went to the store without us, we may have been sleeping, and got fresh fish, caught that morning on the coast. This soup hinges on the freshness of the fish. It can be made with frozen fish but I imagine it is not as nice.

2 medium sized white fish (I assume that any fish will do but this will drastically change the taste)
5-6 cups of water
1 red onion (chopped)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic (but you know the Batter Junkie, he always puts in more garlic!)
1 grated carrott
1 head of parsley
1/2 cup white rice
1/2-1 cup of tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste

If you’ve never cooked with whole fish before, do not despair, this is relatively easy. The first thing to check with fish is their eyes. If they are milky white, toss them in the garbage, preferably outside and down wind. If they have a clear eye they are most likely fresh.

In a large pot, place the water (I would start with about 5 cups) the fish and a quartered onion.

Boil for about 5-8 mintues. This will infuse the fish with the onion and cook it nicely. The fish will be slightly firm to the touch. Remove the fish and onions and SAVE THE WATER! The water is your soup base. Discard the onions and clean the cooked meat out of the fish and reserve it for later. Toss the fish heads unless you can come up with a creative way to use them.

In a fry pan, place the garlic and olive oil. Fry the garlic for 1-2 minutes.

Heat up the pot again with the fish broth in it. Add the carrots, parsley and fried garlic. Toss in the white rice and bring the whole thing to a low boil and let it sit for about 20 minutes. This will cook the rice. About 5 mintues from the end of the boil, add in the fish again and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with bread and a salad if you really want to complete the meal.

Thank you Ivana for this fantastic, traditional, fresh meal! It was such a joy seeing you, Amela, Toni and friends in Zagreb! We miss you already.

Enjoy junkies!

Written in Joe Bar, Capitol Hill, Seattle.

Labels: Croatian, fish, soup, main

Buttermilk Chocolate Beer Cake

So here’s another one Maja, one of my biggest fans, will love. This cake once changed the course of a young boy’s life. Young Luke no direction, was into prescription drugs, and was headed for the wrong side of the tracks when he had this cake. OK none of that was true but he did really seem to like the cake. It was his birthday and he was never the same again…

3 cups flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp  + 1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups freshly brewed, strong hot coffee
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
24 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/4 to 1/2 cup of dark beer

Preheat the old oven to 180 C (350 F).

This cake was an episode of pure love for me. The warning on this one is that it is not, as the say, terribly “health conscious.” There is a lot of sugar and oil and buttermilk in it but it turns out that’s what makes cake taste good. I mean, it’s a cake people. It’s not going to give you rock hard abs, thighs, or really, anything. What it will give you, is a large smile on your face and anyone within smelling distance may hurtle down the hall to bang on your door, demanding a piece. Just sayin’.

So to start, mix all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. I used a whisk. Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. Slowly blend in the oil, buttermilk and 3 eggs one by one. It will be really thick but do not despair. Little by little add the freshly brewed strong hot (hunka hunka burning love) coffee. It will be hard to incorporate by it will eventually mix in. Finally mix in the vanilla extract to complete the…wait for it…wait for it…BATTER! Taste some. I did…

Divide the batter in half pouring it into two 9 inch round cake pans. Given my nomadic nature, I was at the mercy of Mike and Luke’s kitchen and was forced to make two square cakes. It doesn’t matter. Just make them both the same size. Bake them for about 30-40 minutes until when you stick a knife or toothpick into them the toothpick comes out clean. Let them cool for about 10 minutes.

While they are cooking you can make the granche (chocolaty sauce). Place the chocolate chunks and cream and beer into a small metal bowl. On the stove take a large sauce pan and fill it about half way with water. Boil the water and place the metal bowl into it, like this:

Once it is well mixed, let it cool down in the refrigerator. Then place one of the cakes on a serving plate. Cover it with granche like you would cover me with kisses after I cooked you a fine meal. Then place the next layer on and cover with further granche. Once it is all covered, put that baby in the fridge till serving time. See the happy Luke?


Mojitos, yeah that’s right.

I have spent the last 5 years in complete awe of this drink. I believe the first time I had it I was with my good friend Mike Martinez. It seems that Mike was the spark of many of my early forays into culinary excellence. We were visiting his parents at their summer house in Eugene and they dubbed the evening “Mojito Maddness.”  (or maybe we did, sources are unclear on this)

Now the problem with this particular drink is that every time anyone has tried to teach me how to make it, I have forgotten almost immediately. This is usually due to excessive “sampling” of the product, but what can you do? Recently in Barcelona, Alfonso, Rana, and I set off on a quest to find the perfect Mojito. We narrowed it down to three recipes and this one was the first we tried. Needless to say we didn’t try the other two.


10 or so fresh mint leaves

1/2 lime cut into 4 pieces

2 Tbsp white sugar

1 cup of ice cubes

1 and 1/2 shots of rum

1/2 cup soda water

Warning: This recipe is hard to do without a muddler

I always make these in low ball glasses. All ball jokes aside, I think it is the best way. So find a squatty round glass out of which you might see people drinking scotch in the movies.  

In the bottom throw one of the four lime wedges and a bunch of mint. Get your muddler. Squash down the lime with the mint (no need to be delicate, Suzie May, really show the lime who’s boss) until the juice is all out of the lime. Add two more lime wedges and the sugar. Muddle that baby again, muddle it like it’s your JOB!

Remove the muddler and don’t strain the mixture. Some recipes will tell you to do that, don’t. What is the point of making a drink in the glass if you’re going to strain it? None, that’s how much. 

Now fill the glass with ice, pour in the rum! Once the rum is in the glass fill it with carbonated water. Give it a little stir and Viola! 

Warning 2: Drinking this drink can lead to excessive dancing, hugging people you don’t know, singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” at full volume off key and other embarrassing side effects. Regardless, this gift of Cuba is worth it!

You’re set. That’s it! You can garnish with the remaining lime wedge!

Often, though, I just toss it in.

Now you can impress your friends and really enjoy what is left of the summer!



Labels: Mojito, Cuban, drink, alcoholic

Yakisoba noodles with mushrooms

The first time I had homemade yakisoba was a less-than-sober night back in college at the house of my good friend Mike Martinez. We were hungry and like most college students had an ample supply of Ramen noodles. In a fit of sheer genius Mike produced a head of cabbage, some onions, and mushrooms from parts unknown. In his mad scientist-like quest to concoct the the perfect drunk food, he sustained 2nd degree burns to his forearm in the half crescent shape if his favorite fry pan. We ate the amazing soba noodles greedily and luckily as Mike said, the burn didn’t hurt until the next day. Since then I have not attempted homemade soba, until today. This is adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe.

Start with the sauce:
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 to 3 tsp hot sesame oil (you can use really any hot pepper to spice it)
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar

The noodley bits:
3 Tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp ginger (chopped)
1 Tbsp garlic (chopped)
10 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms (sliced)
One head of thinly sliced Naapa cabbage (8 cups)
6 green onions (sliced)
8 to 9 ounces soba noodles

As per usual it behooves the cook to make the sauce first. It really is just a matter of stirring the ingredients together so don’t sweat it. Just mix them together in a bowl and set aside for later.

Toss the sesame seeds in a pan over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Toast them just enough to release the aromas. They will get a little brown.

At this point boil enough water to cover the soba noodels. Place them in the water for a few minutes. Once they are soft to the touch, drain them and set aside. (Where is this “aside” in which people are always  telling me to put things?)

Chop up your veggies and mushrooms!

Into a large fry pan pour vegetable oil. Once it is hot, toss in ginger and garlic. Saute for a few minutes until you smell their combined awesomeness. It will smell like a picnic at Yan Can Cook‘s House.

Toss in the mushrooms and mix well. Let them saute for about 4-5 minutes.

Then add in the cabbage and most of the green onions (save some onions for garnish if you are the posh type who garnishes things). Let them simmer with the other bits for about 6 minutes.

Now you need to mix the triumvirate of flavors together. Toss the drained noodles into the cabbage mixture and finally mix in the sauce.

At this point you are near perfection. Serve up some portions of this fine mess and sprinkle some sesame seeds and and green onions on top.

And your done. Do you feel good about yourself? Cause you should.


Labels: Japanese, main,  noodles

Zeytinyagli Yesil Fasulye (Turkish green beans and Olive oil)

I believe the first time I had this it was at Ülker teyze’s house. As is common with Turkish dinners, there were about 10 other dishes on the table so I can’t be sure. Either way this is a great summer treat. It is delicious cold or hot though is traditionally served cold (just like revenge!).

If you can find fresh green beans it is really the optimal way to go about it. Canned green beans are just well not so green.

1/2 kilo of fresh green beans (1 pound)
1 big onion (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
2 big fresh tomatoes (chopped)
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup hot water
1/8 tsp ground cumin
crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp tomato paste

The lovely Rana will demonstrate. The first thing you must do is process the beans. This takes a few minutes. First you cut off either end and then cut them into 2 inch lengths. Then chop you onions, garlic and tomatoes. Once you are done with that you can begin cooking.

In a large pot pour the olive oil and heat it over medium heat.

Throw in the onions and garlic and brown them until just fragrant (about 3 minutes). At this point toss in the beans. Let them cook until the change color slightly.

See the difference?

Then throw in the, water, tomato and add the spices. Cook on low for about 45 minutes, covered. At that point you can either eat it or let it cool. Rana likes it cold, but I’ll eat it either way.


Goat cheese spinach "impress-your-friends" salad.

This one of those “where did you get that recipe?” kind of salads. You know when you take it somewhere and everyone thinks you’re Juila Child or Betty Crocker or Huge Hefner, which of course I get a lot (the younger Huge). I think you will love the way this tastes and the way your reputation skyrockets because of it. But you don’t have to take my word for it, I got this recipe with a few changes from

2 cups washed Spinach
4-5 Large Strawberries, sliced
Handful Seasoned walnuts or pecans ( or plain if you want)
Goat Cheese (I put about two Tbsps on each serving)

Walnut seasoning:
1/4 cup water
1/8 or 1/4 cup sugar (I use 1/8 because I don’t like them so sweet)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves (optional)
1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)
1/8 tsp ground pepper

1 clove garlic (chopped up)
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
3 Tbsp. virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp basil, or oregano or both (dried is fine but fresh is way better)

At first glance this may seem like a difficult recipe but do not be dissuaded. It is quite simple and will simply impress anyone for whom you make it.

untitled-7949  First, wash your Spinach (you can use other greens if you like) dry it and put it in a salad bowl. Add sliced strawberries and begin work on the walnuts.untitled-7950In a small sauce pan, place the walnuts and then ingredients of the seasoning. Simmer over medium heat until most of the water has evaporated. If you don’t have all of those spices it’s OK. I just used cinnamon, salt and pepper the first time I made and it turned out fine. Hence the optional on the nutmeg and cloves.

Set the walnuts aside to cool. While the nuts are cooling it’s time to make the dressing. (Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.)

The dressing is simple. In a glass of some sort, mix all the ingredients. Chop your herbs if you are using the fresh variety and mix it all together. Once you’re done, those nuts ought to be good and cooled off by now. If they’re still too hot for you, just give those nuts a little blow.

Mix the nuts and the dressing with the spinach and strawberries and viola! Perfect salad. For the finishing touch, sever them in bowls and place some goat cheese on the top.untitled-7951If you’re looking for something to seal the deal of a relationship, this just might be your dish. I have heard that it works on both sexes equally well.


Labels: Salad, goat cheese, strawberries

Goodbye Barça Two: Marissa’s Marvelous Mushrooms

If you don’t know Marissa, you’re missing out. This girl once marched over to her friend’s house in the middle of the night to make brownies for the sole reason that said friend had threatened to make them from, A BOX! The horror. This girl knows about home cooking and today we honor her with one of the first recipes she ever taught me, Stuffed Mushrooms.

This dish is not only elegant looking for a party but is an amazingly efficient way to get a huge amount of mushrooms into your belly in the shortest time imaginable. The lovely Rana and Ines will be your mushroom models today!

20-30 large mushrooms (really as many as is humanly possible to eat)
3 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic to taste
1/2 onion (chopped)
3-4 sprigs of parsley (chopped)
white wine to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Bread crumbs (we use the Italian Seasoned variety)

Heat up your oven to about 200 C (about 400 F)

Grab your pile of mushroom and wash them thoroughly. If you knew how mushrooms were grown, you would be careful to wash them. (and they say the subjunctive is dead in English) Wash them well to get the nasty off.

Then one by one hold each mushroom in your hand and grab firmly around the base of the stem with your other hand. Rock the stem around until it pops out. If you’ve done it correctly there will be a nice hole recessed into the mushroom. A hole which you will soon fill with hot cheesy goodness. Whew, that whole paragraph was not very family friendly. Here on the Batter Junkie we’re no stranger to euphemisms.  Oh well, family friendly is not this blog’s demographic. Save the stems.

If you break the mushroom too irreparably with your big sausage-finger man hands, not to worry. Just throw that mushroom in with the stems. We’re going to use them in a minute. Finely chop up the stems and any mushroom causalities.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and toss in the onions and garlic. After a few minutes add the stems and white wine. Saute those naughty little flavors together for about 5 minutes and remove from heat.

In a bowl combine the mushroom mixture, cheese and bread crumbs until they form a kind of sticky gooey cheesy mess of yum. If the mixture is too dry add some olive oil. If it is sopping wet add a few more bread crumbs. Once you’ve made these a few times (oh and you will make them a few times at least) you will figure out the consistency.

Now it’s time to get rough. Take a handful of filling and stuff it into one of those unsuspecting innocent little mushrooms. Place your submissive mushrooms on a baking sheet as you fill them. Once they are all full and happy sprinkle a little olive oil over the whole tragic scene. This will help them stay moist in the oven.

Pop them in the oven for about 25-40 minutes. They will brown on top when they are done and the mushrooms will reduce in size slightly. Due to bad planning and mostly ravenous hunger, no pictures of the mushrooms “up close” were taken. They are shown here in the distance. You can imagine that they are beautiful!

I recommend baking the mushrooms right before your guests arrive. That way you can eat them all yourself saying, “What mushrooms? I didn’t see and mushrooms.” You’ll never be forced to make them against your will either because only you and I will know the secret. Shhhhh!

Thank you once again to the lovely Marissa!

Labels: appetizer, mushrooms

Goodbye Barça One: Bruschetta

Today marks my 40th recipe!
It is bitter sweet however. It is with heavy heart that I turn my back on the place I have called home for the last six months. As an American citizen who just wanted to spend a little more money here in Europe I fail to see the financial advantage of sending Devo packing but alas, I must away. On my final Friday we had a little get together where we each did an appetizer for dinner. The first one, bruschetta, is brought to you by the most swarthy and amazing Italian I know, Simone. So without further sappy ado I present to you, an Italian classic.

5-6 Large tomatoes
4 Tbsp olive oil
tsp salt
tsp sugar
5 or so cloves of garlic
a loaf of nice bread (In Seattle I use Essential Baking bread)

Preheat the oven to Barry White hot (250 C or 465 F).

Yeah that’s about it. Can you believe it? Now I’ve seen a lot of bruschetta recipes and this one is by far the simplest, but guess what, it’s the tastiest as well. The magic happens, as Simone says, when you have  fresh, high quality ingredients. So don’t make this with tomatoes that have been sitting in the fridge since you last called your mother.

Cut up the tomatoes into large 1/2 inch chunks an place them in a bowl. Make sure to get as much of the tomato juice in the bowl as possible. Try to look Italian, like this guy.

Pour the olive oil, salt and sugar into the bowl and mix around with a fork.

Cut the bread into slices and toast them on a baking sheet for about 5 minutes or until the bread become a bit crunchy.

Here is where I was amazed and delighted. When the bread came out of the oven, Simone took a piece of raw garlic and rubbed it on the bread. Now all previously held conceptions of garlic, and bread for that matter, were whisked away with the flick of an Italian wrist. The bread, once toasted, is sufficiently coarse enough to actually grate the garlic onto it. Neat!

Rub the garlic onto all of the slices of bread.

With a large spoon get some of the juices from the bowl of tomatoes and drizzle them on each slice of bread. With that same spoon, or with another if you like doing extra dishes, drop a healthy amount of tomatoes onto each slice.

Serve it right after you put the tomatoes on because after a while the bread will become soggy and no one likes soggy things, in cooking or in life. Beware, this will happen to your eyes if you eat too many.

Remember fresh ingredients and avoid the soggy. You heard it here first folks!

Next time we’ll do the mushrooms you see in the distance near the horizon of magazines and European people.

Labels: Italian, appetizer, tomatoes

Garlic Rosemary Naan Bread

There are few things finer in this life than fresh bread. If you don’t agree with this statement you may want to get your head checked for some sort of malfunction. This bread comes from the Indian tradition of Naan with a little Devonized touch of garlic and rosemary. If you’ve never made bread before this is a great one with which to start. It’s easy, tasty and most likely will please those around you as well. I made this batch with my friend Alfonso. He seemed pleased. Moving on.

1 tsp dry yeast
1 tsp sugar (the Indians use Demarara sugar)
1 and1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp plain yogurt
2 Tbsp milk
1 tbsp vegetable oil

4 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp chopped Rosemary

Preheat oven to 140 C (275 F)

In a small bowl preferably away from prying eye you must begin the yeast orgy. Yes you heard me this is baking at it’s finest, sex death and life all in a little bowl. In the bowl place the dry yeast, sugar and about a Tbsp of warm water. Make sure the water is only about 38 C (100 F). You can test this by putting your finger in. If it comes out red or scaled you know, it’s too hot. OK, don’t actually do that. Warm tap water is usually about hot enough. Place that bowl aside and forget about it for a while. The yeast orgy will not begin if you watch it. They’re shy.

Now it’s time to prepare you garlic and rosemary. In a small saucepan add about a Tbsp of vegetable oil and over medium heat, saute the garlic and chopped rosemary. This should take about 3 minutes. You don’t need to brown the garlic because it is going in the oven. Just saute long enough to bring out the flavor. Set that aside on a plate to cool.

Meanwhile mix the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Once they are sifted together add in the yogurt milk and oil. At this point your garlic should be cool. If it isn’t, toss it in the freezer for a few minutes. Add the cooled garlic to the mixture. By this time your little libertine yeasties will all be ready to go. They will look like this. Add them to the mixture. Now knead the whole thing together until you get a kind soft dough.

Cover the dough and let it sit for about 15 minutes to rise.
Divide the dough into four equal parts and roll each bit into a ball

On a flat clean surface, throw down some flour and roll each ball out with a rolling pin (or your hand if you don’t have a rolling pin, a pint glass works as well).

Place these little flat wonders in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. If you’ve done things right they should rise up and be plump and golden brown.

Serve them will curry or butter chicken or by themselves with a little butter.
Picture of the final product forth coming (We ate all of the naan before I could take a picture)
UPDATE! Here be the naan.


Labels: garlic, Indian, naan, rosemary

Hummus – The Great Unifier

With all of the strife in the world, it is a wonder that one thing continues to unite people. This paragon of food is spawned from the simple loins of the courageous chick pea, resilient, proud and strong. It is known by many other names, the Garbanzo bean, Nohut, Indian pea or Ceci bean. I have had hummus in many countries and with varying degrees of garlic but one things remains the same, it is almost always good. This particular recipe was given to me by a one Ali San, Rana’s papa.

For fun I have included many of the comments Ali made when he gave me the recipe. His comments are in Blue.

1 400g can of cooked garbanzo beans (14-16oz)I do not peel them. You need that roughage in your system!
3 Tbsp of their own juice
3 Tbsp of olive oil
1 Tbsp of tahini (optional) (the spell check insisted on changing it to Tahiti, beware!)
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin
flakey red pepper to taste
Juice of ½ a lemon (more or less, to taste)
Once you’ve collected all of your ingredients, drain the garbanzo beans (save the juices) and place them in a blender. In my case I didn’t have a blender so I simply put then in a giant bowl and used my blending wand! Then throw in the additional ingredients and commence to blendin’.

Ali says to blend until you get a moist, fluffy, but not runny consistency. You can experiment and get to that point by adding more or less of its juice and olive oil. I like to leave mine a little chunky!

To give it a little color and put your guests on notice, sprinkle a little flaky red pepper on top…and enjoy. (Now I’m confused, the spell check can’t make out the difference between “flakey” and “flaky”. Nor can I.) 

Also my a Lebanese friend taught me that you make a little divot in the middle of the hummus and pour in some olive oil. I hope you like this as much as my guests did! I did not nor do I usually include Tahini. It is hard to find in other countries and not 100% critical to good hummus. Serve with fresh cut carrots and peppers or pita for dipping.

Labels: Hummus, side, appetizer, 

Guacamole – Alfonso and Devon Styles

Guacamole comes from a combination of the word Aguacate (avocado) and mole (sauce). Aguacate comes from  the Nahuatl (Aztec language) word meaning testicle, for obvious reasons. Think about that next time you bite into an avocado sandwich. I have been making my version for many years and it always seems to change. The other recipe or really “style” of guacamole was taught to me by my friend Alfonso. He is a bona fide Mexican and puts it best when he says, “It doesn’t matter how you make it, guacamole cannot really be bad.” Good news if you’re new to the kitchen, this is your dish!

Both have the same ingredients:
2-4 avocados
1 Roma tomato
1/4-1/2 onion chopped very finely
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 of a lime squeezed

Allow me to take this time to show you a neat way to cut an avocado. First slice that puppy in half.

Hold the side with the pit in it and THWACK your knife into it. Once the knife is firmly implanted in the pit, twist slightly and pull it out. The pit should come with it! Now take your knife and remove the pit by throwing it at a rotating target, with a your beautiful assistant on it.

If you are making Alfonso Style, cut long thin strips with your knife. This will allow you to make big chunks later. If you’re making Devon style you can just remove it with a spoon.

In a large bowl toss in the avocado, finely chopped tomato and onion and add the spices. If you are making Devon style, mash everything up aggressively with two forks. If you are making Alfonso style, mix the chunks lightly and squeeze not just a half but a whole lime of the mixture. That’s really the main difference.

 Alfonso Style (sounds like Tiger Style from a kung fu movie) 

Devon Style
Who will win? None can tell until the final battle has been waged! 

Serve it with chips or my personal favorite, more healthy alternative, cut carrots and peppers.

Also as a little teaser for the next post, you can see pictured here hummus, served Lebanese Style. All three will enter the ring only one style will prove victorious.

Until next time,

Lables: Gaucamole, avocado, Mexican

Champagne Sangria

We first had this amazing drink when mom and dad came to visit Barcelona. There is a fantastic bar near our house called La Luna (the moon for those of you who don’t habla the Español). There they serve all manner of amazing food and drink. We ordered champagne sangria out of sheer amazement and it turned out to be a crowd favorite. This is my best recollection of the recipe.

1-2 bottles of Champagne
1 orange (peel it if you like to eat the fruit later)
10-15 cut up strawberries
1 apple chopped up
1 peach
1 shot vodka
1 shot rum
1 shot chambord
1 shot triple sec
2 shots orange juice
2 shots blueberry juice (this is optional and my own addition)
3-4 Tbsp of sugar (also optional)

Peel the fruits if you want to make them easier to eat while your drinking.

Chop up the fruits.

Put them in a jug or bowl.

Pour in the Champagne

Add the hard alcohol, other juices and sugar.

Serve and Enjoy! You can let it sit for up to a day in the refrigerator as well. This intensifies the flavor but the bubbles of the champagne are all gone. Hope this finds you summery and happy.
Kisses from the Batter Junkie.

Tostones with mojito sauce – a gift from Cuba

These puppies are amazing. I can’t tell you how tasty they are. If you’ve never had one, it’s kind of like mixing a banana with a potato and then deep frying the whole thing. How can you go wrong with that? These are brought to you from the kitchen of the lovely Marina with “would you like to call a friend” help from her mom in Malaga. I first had them in La Casa del Mojito in Seattle.

6-7 large green plantains (in Spanish they are called platanos machos)
5 cups or so of vegetable oil

Mojo Sauce:
This sauce is sometimes called Mojito sauce but is not to be confused with the amazing drink.
1/3 cup olive oil
6 to 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
2/3 cup sour orange juice or lime juice
(or equal portions orange juice and lime juice)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
chopped cilantro (optional)

Let’s make the sauce first!
In a small sauce pan place the olive oil and over medium heat cook the garlic for about 30 seconds. Pour in the mixture of orange and lime juice. Be careful because the oil will splatter. Add in the cumin, pepper and salt and bring to boil. After you remove from heat you can add in chopped cilantro, but my mythical Cuban grandmother says that’s not traditional Cuban style Mojo. Set that aside to cool while you make the vehicle for this sauce.

Now on to the tostones. The technique here is really what is important. First you have to peel the plantains. If you have ever tried to do this you will know it is not a picnic. Cut the plantains (peel and all) into about 2 inch long sections.

Cut the section with a knife lengthwise and stick your fingers in the slit. Pull the peel off slowly until it starts to give and it should pull completely away. I feel like I’m giving marital advice, here.

In a very large fry pan, place enough oil to cover the plantain bits while they are laying down. Heat the oil to medium high and drop the plantains into the oil.

Let them cook for about 5 minutes, just to where they are getting firm. Then carefully pull them out and set them aside. I would recommend using metal tongs and not your fingers.

Here’s where talent, experience and patience came into play. We had none of the above so we just charged ahead. We had no idea what we were doing so we did what any self respecting cook would do, we phoned mom.

She explained that it is best to place the semi-cooked plantain between two pieces of a paper bag or saran wrap or some hard plastic and squish it down flat with a drinking glass. The saran wrap was not the best but soon all of the plantains were little squished version of their former selves. Onward to the present…

Place them in some warm water for a few minutes. Be sure to dry them off a bit. Then heat up the oil again and place them back in, in their squished format. Let them fry for another 5-10 minutes and pull them out. Check them frequently as they should not be hard just a little crunchy and golden brown.

Pour on your sauce and serve to some very happy people.


Thanks so much to Marina and her mom. Please let me know if I missed something or misrepresented part of the process.

Labels: Cuban, appetizer, tostones

Fresh Thai Salad Rolls and Peanut dippin’ sauce

I don’t care what mis/pre/immaculate/conceptions you may have about Thailand but I will tell you this: the food lives up to the hype. Back in 2001we had the good fortune to travel in this amazing country. We ate fresh, flavorful and most of all, spicy as hell, food for one glorious week. Upon our departure my parents left me in the Bangkok airport to fend for myself before continuing on to Spain. Even the airport had great food. Yeah, it’s that awesome there.  This is a recipe that I deconstructed from a little place called East West cafe in Tacoma of all places. I know that is embarrassing but you can see it from the freeway so, no harm no foul.

The sauce is a soon-to-be-no-longer secret recipe developed by the Carroll family, and our Thai ancestors.
This is the longest intro ever, so lets get started.

The final product

Rice or tapioca paper wrappers
3-4 carrots
1 bag thin rice or bean thread noodles
1 bunch of cilantro
1 bunch of fresh mint
1 bag of bean sprouts
2-3 heads of Romain lettuce (in Spain I discovered you can get baby Romain heads, they are perfect)
2-3 Tbls soy sauce
1 cup peanut butter (I use Adams)
1 cup chicken broth
4 Tbls chopped ginger (or as much as you can stand)

This is a labor of love. These little wraps of wonderment are so yummy, but you may be disappointed with how fast they disappear. I find that they are best to make when many people are around and that’s just what we did here.

First, let’s make the sauce so we can allow it to cool a little.

In a sauce pan over medium heat combine the soy sauce, peanut butter, broth and ginger. Stir for about 5 minutes until thick and remove from heat. Easy sauce, huh? Well, you’re about to make up for it with the wraps.

To make the salad rolls I usually clear a large work surface and set it up like an assembly line, each ingredient separated from the other. Then you can have your friends help.

To prepare, wash all of your vegetables well, grate the carrots, and separate the leaves from the mint and cilantro. In a large pot boil enough water to cover the thin rice noodles. Remove the pot from heat and put your rice noodles into the pot. Let them sit for about 2 minutes. If they are soft, drain them into a colander (strainer) and set them in a bowl. (At least that is what I think it says to do on the bag. I’m not sure because it is all in Chinese but it seems to work.)

Now you’re ready. Boil some water. Pour about 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of a large sauce pan.

From here the lovely Rana will demonstrate the assembly process:

1) Place one of the rice wrappers into the water. Be careful! That was just boiling. Leave it in for only about 10 seconds or less. This will soften the wrapper. Remove and lay it out on the counter.

2) Place a large segment of lettuce on top of the wrapper and place small amount of all of the ingredients into it.

3) Pull the lettuce to the edge closest to you and begin rolling up the wrap.

4) When you get about half way, fold in the sides so they seal the ends. Then continue rolling it up.

5) Repeat steps 1-4 until you run out of motivation or rice wrappers.

Once you have a tray full of these, dip them in the peanut sauce and enjoy. They are great appetizers but we often eat them as a dinner.

Check out what happened when we made them last time:

Labels: Thai, salad, appetizer, dinner, dip,

Limonlu Kek – Turkish Lemon cake

First I want to apologize for the long lack of posting. I just want to give you time to catch up! Have you caught up yet? Vamos!
Oh and one more thing: Go España! They won today.

This is great stuff and it’s healthy too. I mean it has lemons in it, right? They’re healthy. This is one of Rana favorites and she taught me how to make it. It is common in Turkey and I would imagine anywhere where lemons grow in abundance. Let’s get started.

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cooking oil (I use saffola)
1 lemon (grate the rind and squeeze out the juice)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
a little less than 1 cup milk

Preheat to 175 C (350 F).

Crack the three eggs into a large mixing bowl and pour in the sugar. Whisk them up together until the sugar is well incorporated. Mix in the flour, one cup at a time. Add in baking powder with the flour. Pour in 1 tsp vanilla extract and add the oil.

Now here comes the lemon part. After you’ve grated the rind off of the lemon, squeeze all of it’s juice into a 1 cup measuring cup. Fill the rest of the cup with milk. Pour the liquid into the rest of the batter and add in you grated lemon rind.

I know what you’re saying Batter Junkies, “But don’t we normally add all of the dry ingredients first?” Well this is an old Turkish recipe and I can’t argue with eons of experience. However, I think it would be ok if you started with dry and moved on to wet.

It’s just like when they asked Kurt Cobain his secret for rock success and he said, “start out quiet and get loud.” That’s the trick junkies, “Start out dry and get wet!”

Ok so now you can pour your amazing batter into a greased bread pan or deep pie pan and throw it in the oven.

The drawback to this kind of cake is that it takes a dog’s age to cook (a long time). Mine took 55 minutes. I would suggest that you start out at about 45 mins and then leave it in for another 10 if it’s not done.

This one is great for all occasions yall.


Labels: cake, lemon, Turkish, dessert,