My favorite quarantine recipes Part IV

4th week into my self-inflicted, no-repeat recipe challenge, and still going strong with another round of newbies and a few tried and true-bies. Trying to balance my proteins with seasonal veggies or salads on the side. It’s all about color, variety and putting every single taste bud to work.


I seldom volunteer to whip up a Risotto. It’s that I don’t like the dish (there’s nothing more sublime than a steaming hot, creamy, nutty, sticky, cheesy puddle of rice), but for those who have never stood at a stove for a solid hour, stirring relentlessly until your hands blister, here’s a dish that is packed with flavor, crunch and yumminess – and the oven does all the work.


Salsiccia Risotto



  • 4 – 5 links hot Italian sausage
  • 1 Tblspn olive oil
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup Riso or Arborio rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup dry white wine (or additional cup of chicken stock)
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 400F.
Heat the oil in a heavy, ovenproof skillet on medium-high. Add the onions and sautée until translucent. Add garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.
Squeeze sausage meat from their casings into the pan along with the bell peppers and cook stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until vegetables begin to brown.
Add rice and sautée, stirring for 1 minute. Stir in stock, wine (if using) and tomatoes and bring to a boil while loosening any brown bits.
Transfer skillet to the oven and bake uncovered for 25 – 35 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Season with several grinds of black pepper.


There’s nothing more mouthwatering than Thai flavors. I don’t care if it’s the fish-sauce/lime/chili dressings or the peanut/vinegar/chili marinades. This is a great summertime dish that can be barbecued outdoors (or broiled in the oven as we all yearn for Summer to get here already!)


Chicken Satay with Cucumber Pineapple Salad



  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Tamari (or light Soy sauce)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 8 cilantro sprigs
  • 1 whole dried red chili pepper or 2 tsps dried red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsps chopped fresh ginger
  • 10 wooden kebab skewers
  • 4 chicken breasts cut into strips


Combine the first 9 ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend well to emulsify, adding a few drops of water if the mixture is too thick.
Divide the mixture and use 1/3 to marinate the chicken strips for 4 hours or overnight in a Zip-lock bag.
Store the other 2/3 separately for dipping.
Bathe the skewers in water for at least 2 hours. Thread the skewers with the chicken strips. Grill or broil until browned on both sides.
Serve with dipping sauce.




For the Salad:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups pineapple (fresh or canned chunks)
  • 1 English cucumber (or 1 medium field cucumber)
  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1/2 cup dry whole roasted unsalted peanuts (plus extra for garnish)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

For the Dressing:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red chili, de-seeded and minced, or 1 tsp. chili sauce
  • 1 tblspn soy sauce
  • 1 tblspn fish sauce
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 tsp brown sugar


Whisk the dressing ingredients thoroughly in a jug and set aside.
Peel and halve the cucumber lengthwise. Slice into 1/4” half-moons or chunks and add to a large bowl.
Add the red pepper, pineapple chunks, spring onion, peanuts, most of the basil and cilantro, (putting aside a little of each for the garnish.
Add the salad dressing and toss well to combine.
Serve on a platter and garnish with the extra herbs and nuts.


This astoundingly flavorful recipe originates from Jamie Oliver. Just a few simple ingredients and little marinating time transform a piece of oven-roasted Salmon into an Asian masterpiece.


Asian ginger Salmon



  • 2 lemongrass stems (pale parts only) chopped.
  • 1/2 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated.
  • 1″ piece of ginger finely grated.
  • 2 pieces of skinless salmon filet, pin-boned (around 1/2lb each)
  • 1/3 cup honey, warmed
  • 4 spring onions, finely shredded
  • 2 limes halved


Using a mallet or a pestle and mortar, bash the lemon-grass until fragrant. Stir in the soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Place the fish in a glass dish, then spread all over with the marinade. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400 deg and line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
Wipe off the excess marinade with your hands and place the salmon on the tray, then brush with the honey.
Bake for 10 minutes or until the fish is just cooked but still a little pink in the center.
Carefully transfer the fish to a board or serving platter, sprinkle with spring onion and cilantro leaves, then serve warm or at room temperature with lime to squeeze.



This incredible crowd-pleaser is both fragrant and downright numbingly spicy, but you can regulate the heat as you dare. As far as the noodles go, you can make them yourself (they are called “Biang Biang” due to the sound they make as you stretch and slap them onto an oiled surface before splitting them into 3-foot continuous belts and then boiling them) or you can opt for far less clean-up time with purchased Asian noodles or Korean rice cakes. It really doesn’t matter because it’s all about the sauce.


Dan-Dan Noodles



  • 2 Italian (sweet) sausages
  • 12 Thai red/bird chilies, ground fine
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Purchased noodles or Korean rice cakes, cooked al dente
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 12 fresh cilantro sprigs, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 6 scallions, sliced thin on bias


Place chilies in large heatproof bowl. Place fine-mesh strainer over bowl and set aside. Combine vegetable oil, garlic, ginger, peppercorns, cinnamon, and star anise pod in small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until sizzling.

Reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer until garlic and ginger are slightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes.

While the chili oil cooks, squeeze the sausage from their casings into a medium skillet and cook on medium heat. Using a wooden spoon, break them up into small bits and stir until well-browned. Set aside.

Pour the cooked oil through the strainer into bowl with chilies; discard solids in strainer. Stir chili oil to combine and let cool for 2 minutes.

Stir in soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar until combined. Add cooked sausage and stir briefly.

Add the cooked noodles or rice-cakes and serve garnished with cilantro sprigs and scallions.



As I try to be as heart healthy as possible (for the most part) (when I remember, that is), I tend to go the Oatmeal route for breakfast. Which makes me hunt tirelessly for ways to vary up a lifeless puddle of gray porridge any way I can. We ordered a slight variation of this at a hotel resort in Palm Springs about 17 years ago, and have been reprising it again from time to time.


Oatmeal Brûlée



  • 2 ripe bananas
  • Prepared steelcut or regular oatmeal (for 4 servings)

For the vanilla sauce:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 8 tblspn sugar
  • 1 tblspn vanilla essence


In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk to a simmer.
Meanwhile in a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together until a ribbon forms when the whisk is lifted out of the mixture.
Whisk constantly while slowly pouring the hot milk into the yolk-sugar mixture.
Return the mixture to the saucepan. Over low heat, stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens. Be careful not to overcook or the eggs will scramble. The sauce is finished when you can dip a spoon into it, the draw your finger over the back of the spoon and have a track remain that is almost free of sauce.
Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. This can be made ahead and refrigerated in an air tight container for up to 5 days.

Divide the cooked oatmeal among flat serving bowls. Slice the bananas into discs and lay in a single layer on top of the oatmeal. Pour a thin layer of vanilla sauce to cover the oatmeal and bananas.
Using a brûlée torch, lightly burn the vanilla sauce (alternately, bring the bowls directly under a broiler for a few seconds until evenly brown) and serve immediately.



Easy, peasy, pudding-in-pie. And oh, so scrumptious are these delightfully citrus-spiked Shrimp rolls.


Shrimp Brioche



  • 1lb baby shrimp, shelled
  • 2 Brioche buns
  • 2 tblspn Sour Cream
  • 1 Lemon
  • 2 Scallions
  • 3 Radishes
  • 2 tblspn Mayonnaise
  • 2 tlblspn fresh Tarragon, chopped
  • 2 oz Arugula
  • 1 Tblspn Butter
  • 2 tspn Olive Oil


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Bring a medium saucepan of lightly salted water to a low simmer. Zest and halve the lemon. Thinly slice the scallions. Thinly slice the radishes. Finely chop the tarragon leaves.
Add the shrimp to the simmering water. Cook until just opaque, 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together 1 Tablespoon sour cream, half the tarragon, and a squeeze of lemon (to taste). Whisk in a large drizzle of oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Halve the brioche rolls and spread them with butter. Place in the oven to toast 3-4 minutes.
If the shrimp are larger, dice into 1-inch pieces. Toss in a medium bowl with the lemon zest, scallions, remaining tarragon, 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise, remaining sour cream and no more than 1 tsp of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss the arugula and radishes into the salad dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Fill each brioche roll with shrimp salad, and top with a bit of arugula radish salad. Serve the remaining salad on the side.



Another amazing restaurant-quality, meet-the-parents or impress-the-boss worthy dish that dazzles the taste-buds is a favorite on our “keeper” list. And I guarantee that after you taste it,  it will be on yours too. Just don’t overcook the chops.


Lamb chops au Poivre



  • 2 tblspn black pepper corn
  • 1 tblspn coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 rack of lamb chops, trimmed and separated
  • 1 tblspn grapeseed oil
  • 1 tblspn butter
  • 2 tblspn chopped shallots
  • 6 tblspn beef stock
  • 1 1/2 tblspn cognac (optional)
  • 4 tblspn Creme fraiche
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs


Coarsely grind the spices in a pestle and mortar. Coat eat chop with spices on both sides. Cover and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.
Heat oil in a cast iron skillet and cook chops for 4 – 5 minutes on 1 side on medium heat until nicely browned. Turn and cook for another 4 – 5 minutes on the other side. Set aside under a foil tent.
Remove excess fat from pan. Add butter and shallots and cook on low heat. Add cognac (if using) and cook until it has evaporated. Add the beef stock and creme fraiche and cook on medium stirring until sauce has thickened and turned slightly brown. Season with salt and a few generous grinds of black pepper to taste.
Spoon sauce over and around chops and garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs.


Stay safe. Stay sane, but most importantly – stay at home!





Somtum Der review

All too often when eastern kitchens open up in western countries, a “dilution” occurs, making foreign food more palatable for local palates. And none seem to suffer this translation more so than south east Asian cuisine. But from time to time a courageous team will open an uncompromisingly authentic bistro that will either lure the locals in or frighten them all away. Such is the case with Somtum Der, a replica of one of Bangkok’s most celebrated restaurants – right in the heart of the East Village. The majority of the menu offers genuine Isan (northern Thai) street cart food, which might be lighter on sugar – but way heavier on chilies – than most other Thai joints around town. The no-frills, pine bench-and-board dining room gets its name from the most famous of all Isan dishes – “Somtum” (Papaya Salad), while “Der” means warm invitation (or perhaps more fittingly – we dare you!).

Spicy Papaya Salad - Somtum Der

Spicy Papaya Salad

The $13 or less, full-color, photographic menu condenses the ordering process substantially, as what you see is precisely what you get. And what you get arrives in a relentless air raid of plates, baskets and dipping jars.

Deep-fried Chicken Thigh - Somtum Der

Deep-fried Chicken Thigh

Working clockwise from where I sat, there was the wondrously crunchy Deep-Fried Chicken Thigh with a blond dusting of indulgently fried garlic served with a lime, chili and fish sauce dip.

Deep-fried, sun-dried Pork - Somtum Der

Deep-fried, sun-dried Pork

Right next to it were the most unbelievably moreish strips of Deep-Fried, Sun-Dried Pork with a tangy, salty, vinegary and slightly fruity hot sauce. Also within arm’s reach: a tight carousel of briny, savory, fresh Shrimp Sashimi with a green chili sauce. I don’t think I’ve ever bitten into shrimp so raw that I was concerned it might bite me back!

Shrimp Sashimi with Green Chili sauce - Somtum Der

Shrimp Sashimi with Green Chili sauce

The sausage-shaped cones of Grilled Sticky Rice were a great way to either neutralize the palate for thirty seconds, or dip and splash into the armada of sauces across the table. The only dish the waiter insisted we try was the Spicy Duck Salad with mint and chilies, which turned out to be a sharp and sweet interlude before the House Special Grilled Marinated Beef.Each finger-long strip was dusted with a coating of warm, crunchy spices that elevated the tender beef to a deeply flavorful and complex umami taste – before being dunked into yet another bracingly sharp fish sauce bath.

Grilled sticky-rice - Somtum Der

Grilled sticky-rice

As brave as we had been in trying to keep the chili intensity at bay, nothing could extinguish the 5-alarm fire from the signature Spicy Papaya Salad (of which there are 8 varieties, and up to 4 levels of sinus-clearing heat). Within seconds of munching through the sublime textures of julienned fruit, chopped nuts and lime, we were a silent chorus of gaping mouths like beached sea bass, waving uselessly at our teeth – the universally understood sign for “Great Scott and little fishes! I think my tongue is melting!”

Pig and Khao review


Pig and Khao - Turon Banana Fritters

Turon Banana Fritters

Comparatively speaking, adding any derivative of the word “Pig” to the name of your venture has been a pretty good omen for many restaurateurs in New York. Not sure whether it’s fun, courage or luck that the “other white meat” offers, but it certainly seems to translate into popularity and longevity. There’s April Bloomfield’s furiously acclaimed Spotted Pig, Danny Meyer’s impossible-to-get-into Maialino (piglet in Italian), happy-hour all-time-favorite Swine, Brooklyn’s BBQ indulgence palace Fette Sau (fat pig in German), sandwich palace Porchetta (deboned pork roast in Italian), lunchtime office crowd favorite chain Potbelly, or Traif (anything on the “verboten” list for good Jews – such as pork or shellfish in Yiddish) and so it’s scarcely surprising that newcomer and Top Chef alum Leah Cohen is already thinking of opening a gastropub knock-off of her South-East Asian hipster canteen Pig and Khao.

Pig and Khao - Burmese Eggplant Salad with Shrimp Chips

Burmese Eggplant Salad with Shrimp Chips

Whatever happens to be on the grill or in the fryer permeates the simple rice-noodle-thin slither of a room with open kitchen and back patio. The overwhelmingly Thai menu (thankfully omits any of the “Big 5” dishes) includes some Filipino and Vietnamese influences as well.
Cohen’s cocktails are every bit as intense and flavor-forward as her food. From her take on a Negroni with grapefruit and cardamom, to a chamomile-infused Rye with elderflower and a “scotch rinse.”
The Burmese Eggplant Salad is like an Asian, peanut, mint and shrimp version of a Babaganoush dip – made even more unstoppably edible thanks to the homemade slightly sugary shrimp chips.

Pig and Khao - Green Mango Salad

Green Mango Salad

The Green Mango Salad sitting under a dome of char-grilled chicken and dried shrimp and cashews for crunch, bathing in that unmistakably flavorful and salivation provoking fish-sauce/lemon grass/chili dressing, feels a bit like the big brother of the Green Papaya Noodle Salad with grilled shrimp in a tamarind chili dressing. Both noodle dishes are crowd favorites. The Shan Noodles with ground chicken and turmeric, and the heavenly Khao Soi .

Pig and Khao - Khao Soi Noodles

Khao Soi Noodles

A velvety smooth, Thai-iced-tea colored coconut curry with chicken, shallots and mustard greens topped with a centerpiece of egg noodles – the bottom half of which are softly submerged in the curry, leaving the top half exposed and crispy.


For our pork dish we tried the meat-falling-off-the-bones BBQ Baby Back Ribs. While the exact ingredients of Cohen’s barbecue sauce remains a secret, suffice it to say I would happily lap up the gingery-garlicky-syrupy deliciousness even if it were poured over MTA subway tickets or second-hand tennis shoes.

Pig and Khao - BBQ Baby Back Ribs

BBQ Baby Back Ribs

For dessert we tried the Turon, which is a banana smartly dressed up in a rice pastry jacket, before being flash fried and perfectly paired next to salted caramel ice-cream and chocolate syrup.
It’s fairly safe to say that Clinton Street has yet another runaway hit on it’s sidewalks.