Almost Yotam Ottolenghi’s Mejadra (Spiced Rice & Lentils)

Almost Yotam Ottolenghi's Mejadra (Spiced Rice & Lentils)

I love Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks: Plenty, Plenty More, Ottolenghi, and Jerusalem, from which this fragrant rice dish hails. But I may never have discovered this dish if not for the opening of Chef John Gorham’s Mediterranean Exploration Company (MEC) in Portland, Oregon in August 2014. We ordered the Tomato Fritters, Moroccan Brick Chicken, Mejadara, and […]

Spicy Tunisian Tomato Sauce with Olives & Preserved Lemon

Tunisian Tomato Sauce with Olives and Preserved Lemon

I have a confession to make. I grew up on Italian-American style “spaghetti sauce.” In our Northwest neighborhood, there were only two pastas in those days—spaghetti and macaroni. Spaghetti had only one sauce. As I recall, it involved a can of tomato sauce, ground beef, and a packet of spices. I loved it because it […]

Homemade Nutella: Two Ways (Chocolate Hazelnut Spread)

Homemade Nutella

To my palate, store bought Nutella tastes like overly sweet, poor quality chocolate, with way too much vanilla and the lingering taste of stale powdered milk. But wait, you can easily make your own! And it’s fabulous. There are five basic ways to make Homemade Nutella. This articles explores two of the best.

Chocolate Snacky Wacky Cake (Depression Cake)

Chocolate Cake Serving 2

This is NOT your average, common place, every-day, garden-variety cake. Frankly, it’s not normal or even respectable. It doesn’t play by the rules. If you are Merriam-Webster, you might call it bizarro, wacko, crazy, curious, eccentric, far-out, odd, kooky, offbeat, outlandish, peculiar, quirky, screwy, strange, or weird. In other words, this unassuming little snack cake is […]

My Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Cheddar Bay Biscuits Closeup

These light, FLUFFY, flavorful, cheesy, moist cheddar bay biscuits are in a class all their own. They are actually significantly cheesier than their Red Lobster namesake. You won’t be able to eat only one.

The Best Super Chewy Snickerdoodles Ever

Stack of Super Chewy Snickerdoodles

There’s something about fall–the brisk mornings, heavenly colors, and burning leaves—that make me want to run to the OtherWorldly Kitchen and whip up a batch of fragrant, spicy, crinkle-topped, chewy Snickerdoodles. You know, the super chewy Snickerdoodles of my dreams.

Pumpkin Spice Granola Clusters

True granola clusters. Not microscopic granola clusters. Not a few granola clusters. But an entire batch of big beautiful granola clusters.

Get ready for true granola clusters. Not microscopic granola clusters that break apart in your hand. Not a few granola clusters in here and there. But an entire batch of big beautiful granola clusters, fragrant with pumpkin butter and fall spices.

Homemade Ricotta Cavatelli Pasta

Hand Shaped Ricotta Cavatelli Pasta

Everything you need to know to make fabulous homemade ricotta cavatelli pasta–with or without a cavatelli pasta machine. Includes extensive tips for using the CucinaPro 530 Cavatelli Maker.

Grandma Mary’s Heavenly Light Buttermilk Skillet Biscuits

Heavenly Light Buttermilk Skillet Biscuits

My Hutterite grandmother, Mary Pullman Stahl, was lauded for her other-worldly cooking, and when it came to biscuits, hers were incomparable. As a farm girl used to the demands of communal meal preparation, she never measured anything and the speed with which she could cover every counter in the kitchen with impossibly tender, light, fragrant biscuits was nothing short of magic–especially to her eight-year-old granddaughter who stood by ready to make cinnamon “dog ears” with the scraps.

The New Monte Cristo Sandwich

Monte Cristo Sandwich

A well-made (i.e. home-made) Monte Cristo Sandwich is an inspired pairing of oh so tender, batter drenched bread, artisan cheese, and fragrant ham—served hot and oozing. Finished with a dusting of powdered sugar and accompanied by a tart fruit sauce, it’s sublime perfection.

Asian Tacos with Prawn & Shiitake Filling & Cabbage Slaw

Asian Taco with Prawn & Shiitake Filling & Cabbage Slaw | LunaCafe

Tender, chewy flatbread wrapped around crunchy cabbage slaw, succulent prawn and mushroom filling, and spicy peanut sauce. Add a squeeze of lime and it doesn’t’ get much better than this. The only words coming from MauiJim’s lips between bites were WOW, WOW, WOW. And then finally, after eating three without coming up for air, “Are there MORE?”

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Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce

Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce on Noodles

There are a million and one recipes for Thai Peanut Sauce, and I’ve never tasted one that I didn’t like. That said, I worked diligently to get a good depth of flavor and an intriguing balance of flavors in my rendition of this popular sauce. It’s a fabulous sauce to have on hand and keeps for a week or more in the fridge.

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Asian Pancakes (Beijing Pancakes)

Asian Pancakes

Also called Beijing Pancakes, Mandarin Pancakes, or Moo Shu Pancakes, these tasty wrappers are not actually pancakes at all. At least not what we think of as pancakes in the United States. They’re not made with a pancake batter, but with a simple, unyeasted flour and water dough that is cut into golf ball-size pieces and then rolled as thinly as possible to form transparent disks.

Vietnamese Crispy Crepes (Banh Xeo)

Vietnamese Crispy Rice Cake with Lettuce Leaves, Fresh Herbs & Nuoc Cham Sauce

You’re first bite of Vietnamese Crispy Crepes, served lettuce-wrap style with fresh mint, Thai basil, fresh or pickled vegetables, prawn and barbecued pork filling, and sweet-sour-spicy-hot Nuoc Cham sauce is going to push all your gustatory senses into overdrive. The aromas, the flavors, the textures. It is one amazing taste sensation, and you aren’t going to forget it anytime soon.

Thai Red Curry Soup

Thai Red Curry Lime Soup - Serving in white bowl

This is one of those soups that everyone raves about for days after eating it. You will have to make it again and again–so luckily it’s easy to make, especially if you have the Thai Red Curry Paste on hand in the fridge or freezer (which I highly recommend).

Spicy Korean Noodle Soup (Jjambbong)

Korean Spicy Noodle Soup (Jjambbong)

Korean soup (Jjambbong) is a spicy, red-hued, infinitely variable, magically comforting noodle soup. Jjambbong is one of the most popular Korean dishes. It’s great with prawns and other seafood, but also delicious with vegetables only. The soup broth is clean and bright and only moderately spicy as prepared here.

Chinese Cracker Jacks

Chinese Cracker Jacks

Many moons ago, as director of the Yankee Kitchen Cooking Schools, I had the opportunity to work with the inestimable Barbra Tropp of the China Moon Café in San Francisco. She came to Seattle to teach a series of classes for the school and the first thing she wanted when she arrived was a whirlwind shopping tour of Chinatown.

Spiced Caramel Apple Sauce

Spiced Caramel Apple Sauce

You know the flavor contrast you get when you bite into a perfect caramel apple—first rich, creamy, sweet caramel, and then bracingly tart, juicy apple? Add half a dozen spices and that’s what this caramel sauce tastes like. At first, you think, “Oh yeah, luxuriously rich, wonderfully spiced caramel,” and then POW, the acidity of the reduced apple cider kicks in and your mouth goes, “Hey, whoa, what’s happening here?” I love this double-punch effect.

Perfect Homemade Mayonnaise & Twenty Variations

Basic Homemade Mayonnaise 2

If mayonnaise has a season, it is definitely summer. I use more mayonnaise in summer than in the other three seasons combined. Where would pasta and potato salads be without mayonnaise? Or a grilled hamburger? Or grilled vegetables?

I can’t imagine these and a host of other dishes without mayonnaise or one of its endless variations. Imagine summer without garlicky Aioli and dill pickle-laden Tartar Sauce. Not possible. And where would our Northwest seafood soups be without the requisite swirl of roasted red bell pepper and garlic mayonnaise, otherwise known as Rouille?

Arepas: Venezuelan Cornmeal Cakes

Buttery Arepas with Mexican Chorizo, Black Beans & Crema

True confession: Until two weeks ago, I had never heard of an arepa. And I certainly couldn’t pronounce it. Now this is weird, because entire shelves of my cookbook library are dedicated to the cuisines of Mexico, South America, the Caribbean, Cuba, and the American Southwest. (This girl can make a mean tortilla and even meaner tamale–yes, she can.) You would think that somewhere in all that reading and cooking, I would have encountered the crusty little Venezuelan or Columbian cornmeal cake called an arepa. But no, didn’t happen.

Homemade Mexican Chorizo–with a Secret

Homemade Mexican Chorizo Sauteing in Pan

I love the idea of Mexican chorizo (not to be confused with dry-cured Spanish or Portuguese chorizo), which is a raw, loose sausage made with ground pork loaded with hot or mild chile powder, herbs, spices, and garlic. You can spot it at a meat counter by its distinctive red color.

Cannellini Bean Soup with Italian Sausage, Fingerling Potatoes & Broccoli Raab

Cannellini Bean Soup with Italian Sausage & Anaheim Chiles

I know it is officially spring, but the weather is still stubbornly variable–bone-chilling rainy days alternating with spirit-lifting balmy days two to one. Thus, until the local field rhubarb and early strawberries arrive at the Portland Farmers Market, I will continue to rely on winter ingredients and hearty, comforting dishes.

Ultimate Salted Caramel Pudding (with Butterscotch Pudding Variation)

Ultimate Salted Caramel Pudding with Caramel Sauce, Whipped Cream & Cocoa Nibs

This post began as a response to repeated requests from a tenacious reader for The Best Ever Butterscotch Pudding (her words). She was impressed with Ultimate Vanilla Pudding (Perfect Stovetop Custard) and Ultimate Chocolate Pudding and wanted the same perfect results with a butterscotch flavor. She had tried a few recipes on the web but was disappointed in the results.

Cabbage Slaw with Fresh Ginger, Garam Masala & Roasted Peanuts

Cabbage slaw

Maybe it was a month of chocolate recipe testing in February that caused my almost maniacal focus on healthy salads in March. Whatever the reason, I just can’t seem to get enough crispy, crunchy salad.

Warm-Spiced Molten Chocolate Cake

Closeup of Warm-Spiced Molten Chocolate Cake

I know, I know! Molten Chocolate Cake, or Lava Cake, as it is sometimes called, is so YESTERDAY. I am almost perturbed today when I see one on a dessert menu.

I mean, really, can’t the pastry chef think of SOMETHING ELSE? Haven’t we moved beyond warm, fragrant, oozing, fudgy chocolate soufflé cakes and their requisite ice cream accompaniments?

Spicy Chocolate, Banana & Fresh Ginger Tea Loaf

Close Up of Spicy Chocolate, Banana & Fresh Ginger Tea Loaf

It’s All Chocolate! All Month! in the LunaCafe OtherWorldly Kitchen. As usual during the Month of Love, I am covered in chocolate: milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, white chocolate, and unsweetened cocoa powder. All in an effort to come up with the most delectable, memorable Valentine’s Day dessert ever.

Mexicano Chocolate Ebelskivers (Aebleskivers)

Mexicano Chocolate Ebelskivers

The first time I bit into the airy pillow of dough known as ebelskiver (pronounced ay bil skee ver), I could not quite categorize it. Was it donut, beignet, popover? Or something else entirely? The only thing I knew for sure was that I loved them—whatever they were.

Golden Raisin Mostarda with a Kick

Golden Raisin Mostarda with a Kick

Mostarda has been showing up with some frequency on restaurant menus of late and after tasting it for the first time with a succulent grilled pork chop at Nel Centro a couple of years ago, I was smitten. It was LOVE at first bite.

Imagine fresh or dried fruit glazed in a sweet, spicy syrup with a subtle or not so subtle mustard kick. As good as that pork chop was, I could have eaten an entire plate of the mostarda.

Mexican Tortilla Soup with Frizzled Tortillas

Mexican Tortilla Soup with Frizzled Tortillas

Over the years, I have eaten this much-lauded soup in every restaurant and café I could find it. I love the concept—toasted chiles, tomatoes, garlic, corn tortillas, and cumin soup base with fried tortillas, avocado, and sour cream embellishments—but not always the execution. Restaurant renditions vary considerably, as do recipes in American Southwest and Mexican cookbooks.

Spicy, Creamy Mulligatawny Soup

Heavenly Mulligatawny Soup

Do you remember that Seinfeld episode where Elaine and Kramer were kibitzing about Mulligatawny Soup? I bet that episode sent thousands of people to the web in search of the recipe. The name alone is an inducement.