Coconut Veggie Chicken Curry

This coconut milk curry is made with yellow curry paste sautéed in coconut oil. You can vary the hard vegetables and add hard squash such as kabocha or butternut. You can make it vegetarian by using only garbanzo beans for protein instead of chicken. I used Mae Ploy brand of curry paste, which is fairly spicy. You can vary the amount of curry paste to suit your taste. I also added curry powder and turmeric for color. The optional spices enhance the flavor, but can be skipped if you can’t find them. I get mine at Halal or South Asian markets, and got the fenugreek from Berkeley Bowl, but you can find them online or at a spice store.


2 Tb coconut oil

1 Tb yellow curry paste

1 large yellow onion, chopped finely

3-4 cloves garlic, minced to make 1 TB

2 1/2 inch piece ginger, peeled and grated or minced to make 1 Tb

1 tsp curry powder

2 tsp turmeric powder

1/4 tsp cayenne

1 tsp whole cumin seeds

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp whole fennel seeds (optional)

1 tsp black mustard seeds (optional)

2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (optional)

1 tsp masala (optional)

Two 13 1/2 oz cans full fat coconut milk

1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

4 medium or 3 large carrots

2 white potatoes

2 medium yams

1 medium eggplant

1 cup chopped frozen or fresh spinach

1 cup frozen peas

1 1/2 to 2 tsp salt to taste

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (optional)

1 handful of cilantro to garnish


Chop onion finely, mince garlic and grate ginger.

Chop hard vegetables into 1/2 inch to one inch dice (bite sized) pieces and set aside in a bowl.

Chop cilantro and set aside. Chop chicken into bite sized pieces.

Heat coconut oil in a large heavy skillet (I use cast iron). Stir in curry paste until it is smooth.

Add onions and let simmer for about 6 minutes until the onion softens. Stir in the garlic, ginger and cumin seeds and simmer for 2 more minutes.

Add 2 cans of coconut milk, stirring until smooth. Stir in the rest of the spices.

Stir the chicken into the curry mix until it is coated. Transfer to a large pot and add the chopped hard vegetables. Stir well and cook covered for 20 minutes, stirring at least every 5 minutes.

Add the chopped spinach and peas and stir well. Add the basil leaves and stir well. Add salt to taste, one teaspoon at a time.

You can serve after cooking, but flavors will meld if you have a few hours to set aside to cool in the refrigerator. Reheat, serve over brown Basmati rice, and garnish with cilantro.

Oven baked Sweet Potato and Garlic Potato Fries

sweet potato fries

potato fries

These easy baked fries satisfy my craving for fries with only 1 Tablespoon olive oil per potato. I sprinkled cinnamon on the sweet potato fries for a sweet spiciness. I used garlic olive oil with a sprinkle of smoked paprika and sea salt on the potato fries.

Sweet potato fries


  • 1 large sweet potato or yam, scrubbed well
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • cinnamon for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 450′

Cut off ends and slice sweet potato in half crosswise and lengthwise. Cut each quarter into matchsticks. Place in a pile on a baking sheet and pour olive oil on top. Use your hands to coat the sweet potato with oil, then spread out on the baking sheet so the sticks don’t touch. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Place on a rack in the upper third of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes and use a spatula or tongs to flip the fries over. Bake another 10 minutes until nicely browned. Serve hot. They will be softer than potato fries, but they will be delicious!

Potato Fries:


  • 1 large potato  scrubbed well. I’ve used both Russet and Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 Tb garlic olive oil
  • smoked paprika (use regular paprika if you can’t get smoked)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • sea salt

Preheat oven to 450′

Cut off ends and slice potato in half crosswise and lengthwise. Cut each quarter into matchsticks. Place in a pile on a baking sheet and pour garlic olive oil on top. Use your hands to coat the potato with oil, then spread out on the baking sheet so the sticks don’t touch. Sprinkle with paprika, pepper and salt.

Place on a rack in the upper third of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes and use a spatula or tongs to flip the fries over. Bake another 10 -15 minutes until nicely browned and crispy. Serve hot.

Roast Chicken with Arabic Spices

roast chicken with Arabic spices

I’ve been running to the various Halal markets buying Arabic spices: Sumac, and spices blends Ras el Hanout and Za’atar to make recipes from Ottolenghi’s “Simple” cookbook. Inspired by the recipe on the package of Ras el Hanout, I made this simple but tasty roast chicken. The skin is crisp and flavorful and the meat is moist and tender.

I’ve found that roasting a chicken breast side down yields a much juicier bird, especially the breast meat which benefits from the juices flowing down.

I surrounded it by giant shallots, since they go so well with roast chicken. I left the skins on and just cut off the ends and popped out the tender shallots after roasting.

Arabic spices


  • One chicken (We spend the big bucks to buy Rocky chicken which is organic and air chilled, since it does taste a lot better and I imagine the hens are happier)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 tsp Sumac
  • 2 Tb Ras el Hanout
  • 1 tsp Za’atar
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper
  • 1 Tb Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp garlic granules or 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • several grinds freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, cut in half
  • 4 large shallots


Preheat oven to 430′. Grease a large roasting pan with oil. Rinse chicken inside and out, and dry with paper towels, then set breast side up on the roasting pan.

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Mix the spices, salt and pepper with the olive oil in a ramekin or small bowl. Use a basting brush to paint the mixture all over the top of the chicken and in the cavity.  Separate the skin from the breast with your fingers, and paint the spice-infused oil under the skin. Place the lemon pieces inside the cavity.

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Flip the chicken over so that it is breast side down. Repeat the spices and oil on the back side, including legs and wings. Place shallots around the chicken.

Roast for 1 1/2 hours at 430′

Nice served with couscous.

Brothy Linguine with Prawns in White Wine Sauce

Serve this delicious Italian favorite with its aromatic sauce made from shrimp shells, clam juice and white wine. My husband’s favorite. I made it for his birthday dinner last night. Use shrimp in shells; easy-peel deveined shrimp are the easiest to work with. I used Italian flat-leaf parsley. I was thinking of naming this recipe “Whining around the kitchen with brothy linguine with prawns in white wine sauce” but it was a bit too wordy.

brothy linguine and prawns May 29


26 medium large shrimp (41/50 per pound size) OR 14 large shrimp (prawns) (26/30 per pound size)


1 1/4 cups water

2 Tb parsley stems (approximately)

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp dried oregano

a pinch red pepper flakes

several grinds black pepper

1/2 -3/4 tsp salt, to taste

8 oz bottle clam juice

1/4 cup chardonnay or other dry white wine

Stir Fry:

2 Tb olive oil

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 Tb finely chopped parsley

14 oz can artichoke hearts in water, quartered

4 cups baby spinach

To cook linguine:

4 oz linguine pasta (1/4 package)

1 gallon boiling water

1 tsp salt


2 Tb pine nuts

2 Tb minced parsley

1 Tb finely grated Parmesan


Defrost shrimp if using frozen shrimp. Either defrost in a container in the fridge overnight or let cold water run over them in a colander for 7 minutes.

While you are defrosting the shrimp, Wash and mince the parsley and wash and spin dry the baby spinach.

shrimp broth May 29

Broth: Peel shrimp and add shells to 1 1/4 cups water in a medium pot. Add the rest of the broth ingredients. Bring to boil, lower heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes.

Pasta: While broth is cooking, boil 1 gallon (16 cups) water and 1 tsp salt in a large pot. Stir the linguine into the boiling water, and cook uncovered for 9 minutes.

shrimp with garlic and parsley May 29

Stir-Fry: Thinly slice then dice garlic. Heat oil in a heavy skillet and fry the garlic for a minute until it begins to turn golden brown. Add the shrimp, oregano and parsley, and stir fry until the shrimp are not quite cooked, a bit translucent and a barely pink.

Add quartered artichoke hearts and spinach. Stir fry until spinach is wilted and shrimp are pink and opaque.

Strain shrimp-shell broth through a fine mesh sieve into the shrimp stir fry and stir softly. (Can you say that fast three times?) Adjust salt.

Put it together: Drain the linguine and divide between two large bowls. Ladle shrimp mixture between the bowls and stir well.

Garnish with parsley, Parmesan and pine nuts. Serve with a fork and a soup spoon.





Chicken Mango Salad

Perfect for lunch or a light dinner on a summer’s day. Sweet mango, sour lemon, tangy Blue cheese, salty crunchy cashews, smooth avocado, and chicken for protein. All on a bed of organic baby lettuce and baby spinach.

with cashews

Ingredients: makes 2 salads

  • Several handfuls of baby spinach-baby lettuce mix per plate
  • 1/2 cup shredded roasted chicken
  • 1 Manila mango or 1/2 Tommy Atkins mango, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 large Haas avocado, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 Tb blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup roasted, salted cashews (can substitute peanuts or pistachios)
  • Juice of 1/2 large lemon
  • A few shakes Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


without cashews

Put lettuce-spinach mix on plates. Arrange chicken, mango, and avocado pieces evenly around the top of the greens.

Sprinkle blue cheese and cashews on top. Squeeze the lemon and sprinkle with Kosher salt on the salad. Drizzle olive oil over the salad. Toss to combine. Enjoy!



Grilled Chicken with Italian Herb Marinade

Grill this tasty chicken after marinating it in a lemon-olive oil marinade with Italian herbs. Easy peasy on a warm day. I served it with grilled eggplant salad

eggplant and chicken with pasta

served it with grilled eggplant salad,  linguine or spaghetti with a bit of grated Parmesan on top.



Juice of one large lemon

1/4 cup EVOO

Several grinds of black pepper and of garlic-onion salt

Several shakes of red chili pepper flakes

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1 sprig rosemary, minced

1 sprig fresh oregano (optional but nice), minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 thin-sliced chicken breasts


Combine marinade ingredients in a plastic or glass container. Immerse chicken in it and marinade for 1 or 2 hours. Heat grill to high and place chicken on it. Turn grill to medium. Flip chicken over when one side is cooked, then pour a little marinade on it and cook the other side. Chicken should be brown but not dry.

Serve with pasta. Nice paired with grilled eggplant salad and chopped artichoke hearts and sprinkled with Parmesan.

pasta chicken eggplant artichoke heat and Parmesan


Papaya and Salmon Spinach Salad

IMG_1532I’ve been buying an extra half pound of salmon so that we can make salmon salad with the leftovers. Coho salmon is really the best and has few bones, even in the center cut.


This recipe is made with produce that is common is Mexican cuisine . The jicama looks like a pointy potato, but is a bit sweet and crunchy inside.

The citrus dressing is a nice contrast to the sweet papaya, and has a little kick from Habanero salsa and ginger. I thought of adding the cilantro after we ate it, so I’ll have to wait until next time to retake the picture with it.


Ingredients: Serves 2

  • Several handfuls of clean baby spinach, long stems discarded
  • About 1/3 cup sliced jicama
  • 1/2 small papaya, sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 1/4 medium avocado, sliced
  • 1/3 cup of toasted pepitas
  • About 1 Tb cilantro leaves


  • 3 Tb juice from 1/2 medium lemon and 1 lime
  • 1 Tb cold water
  • 3 drops Habanero salsa (That’s hot enough for my taste but you are welcome to add more if desired.)
  • 1/4 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tb olive oil


Make dressing: Combine all ingredients except oil in a jar and shake well. Add oil and shake well to emulsify.

toasted pepitas

Toast the pepitas (Green pumpkin seeds): Preheat oven to 350′ Measure 1/3 cup of pepitas in a bowl. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp water on them and mix in. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp salt and stir well. Spread on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until pepitas are light brown. Cool on a rack.

saladPlace baby spinach on plates, removing the long stems. Slice papaya, avocado and jicama and place on top of spinach.

Place cold salmon on top. Dress with citrus-ginger dressing. Sprinkle toasted pepitas on top.




Nearly Niçoise Tuna Salad

Tuna nicoise

This French salad (Niçoise means from Nice, France) is a far cry from the mayonnaise-drenched tuna and celery salad of my childhood. Traditionally it’s served with anchovies and I’ve had a fancy version made with seared sushi grade tuna. This is my “shelter-in-place” version, made from what’s left in my pantry and fridge a week and half since I braved the grocery store. The eggs are cooked a minute beyond “jammy.” This was enough for a nice lunch with my husband, still tasty if not altogether authentic.

Salad ingredients: (serves 2)

5 oz can tuna in olive oil

Iced water (half ice water and half crushed ice) in a bowl

2 eggs

1 tsp Kosher salt

a couple of handfuls of fresh or frozen green beans (You can get fancy French with skinny haricot verts)

1 medium white or red potato

2 bay leaves

Several grinds black pepper

A couple of handfuls of spring salad mix

A handful of mini cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes

10 salty olives. I had Manzanillas on hand (a packet from Trader Joe’s)

A few pieces of avocado if you like

Dressing ingredients:

2 Tb lemon juice

1 Tb water

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp dried tarragon

1/4 tsp dried dill weed

Pinch of Kosher salt

Several grinds black pepper

3 Tb Olive oil (EVOO is best)

Oil drained from tuna can


Place can of tuna in the refrigerator right before you start to cook.

Have a bowlful of iced water ready.

Boil salted water in a medium saucepan (It should come up 2/3 of the way.) Gently place the eggs in the water using a slotted spoon. Lower heat to medium so the water is boiling gently. Cover pot and cook for 7 -8 minutes. Remove eggs from pot and place in iced water.

Put a couple of handfuls of green beans in the boiling water. Cook uncovered for about 4 minutes, until they are bright green. Fish out the green beans with the slotted spoon and place in the iced water, adding more ice.

Add a bay leaf or two and a couple of grinds of black pepper to the boiling water. Stab the potato a few times and lower into the water. Cook, covered for about 18 minutes, or until potato is fork-tender but still firm.

Remove green beans and eggs from the iced water and put in the potato. Place the green beans on a paper towel to drain. Peel the eggs, starting at the flat end where the air pocket is, which makes so much easier! Rinse them, then cut in half crosswise. Remove the potato from the iced water when it’s cool enough to handle and gently peel it by hand, then cut into bite-sized pieces.

Make Dressing: 

Whisk together lemon juice, water, mustard, tarragon, dill, salt and pepper. Drizzle in olive oil while whisking. Open tuna fish can and drain oil into the dressing and whisk well until emulsified. (The mustard helps with the emulsification.) You can also do this in a blender.

Put salad greens on plates and place tuna in the middle of each plate on top of the greens. Place eggs, potatoes, and green beans each in its own area around the tuna. Scatter the olives, tomatoes, and avocado over the salad. Generously pour dressing over the salad.

Bon appétit!

Ground Turkey Tostadas and Tacos Filling

turkey filling

Ground turkey makes a lighter and healthier filling than ground beef for tostadas and tacos. Even  low-fat ground turkey becomes moist and flavorful with the addition of tomatoes, salsa, and spices.

I browned the entire pound package and added a whole onion, and doubled the salt. I then saved half of the meat mixture for Baked Ziti or other Italian meat sauce.

These seasonings are at  the low end of the spicy scale, so season to your taste.

Ingredients: Makes approximately 8 – 10 tostadas or tacos

  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 onion, chopped finely
  • teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced and chopped
  • A few shakes red pepper flakes
  • A few grinds of black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of chipotle or other chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped
  • 2 Tb salsa chipotle or salsa Mexicana
  • 1/4 cup water or broth


Heat olive oil in a large saucepan until it shimmers. Place turkey on the oil and let it sit about 5 minutes or so until it browns. Turn it over and let it brown on the other side a few minutes, then use a metal spatula to break it up. Add the chopped onion and salt, and continue breaking up the turkey. Cover the pan and turn the heat to simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in garlic and seasonings, the tomato, salsa and water or broth. Cook for about 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed but turkey is not too dry.

Spread the tostada shell with frijoles pintos, then with the turkey. Top with lettuce, cilantro, tomato, avocado, radishes and black olives (halved so they won’t roll off the tostada!) and salsa if desired. Tacos pretty much the same, except with heated tortillas.

tostadas with ground turkey filling

Apple Strudel in Phyllo Dough

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Phyllo (sometimes spelled fillo) means leaf in Greek and the sheets of dough are as thin as leaves. I buy it frozen in Middle Eastern markets and if I’m lucky it also shows up in Berkeley Bowl and other large markets. I use it to make Spanakopita, and there’s usually enough leftover sheets to make Apple Strudel for dessert. I caramelize the apples before rolling them into the phyllo dough.

Ingredients: (makes 3 rolls)

  • 3 medium apples (Gala or other cooking apples are good)
  • 6 Tb butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tb cinnamon
  • 2 tsp lemon zest, from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tb bread crumbs or 2 slices of toast, torn into pieces
  • 1/3 – 1/2 package phyllo dough (9 sheets), defrosted
  • 1 Tb powdered sugar 

Directions: Preheat oven to 375′

Peel and core apples and chop them finely.

If you don’t have breadcrumbs,  place the torn toast in the blender. Run on high and you will have made breadcrumbs! Divide them in half.

apples for strudel

Melt butter in a large skillet. Pour out 1/4 cup and set aside. Add apples to the skillet and stir until they are coated. Stir in cinnamon and brown sugar and cook until the liquid is thick and sticky. Stir in 1/2 the breadcrumbs, pecans, lemon juice and zest. Remove from heat.

Divide the remaining breadcrumbs into 3 groups.

breadcrumbs on phylloPlace 1 sheet of phyllo on a pastry board or clean surface. Lightly brush with melted butter. (If the butter has thickened, reheat it in the microwave.) Place another sheet and repeat, and then a third sheet. Sprinkle 1/3 of the breadcrumbs in a rectangle at about 2 inches from the sides and top.

filling in phylloScoop 1/3 of the apple mixture and spread on top of the breadcrumbs. Fold the top and sides over. Then roll it up by folding it over the apple filling.

strudel rolled up and ready for oven

Brush the butter over the sealed bottom and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet. Butter the top and sprinkle a little cinnamon on it.

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Let bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack before slicing. Sift a little powdered sugar on top just before serving.