Archive for ‘Soups, Salads & Sandwiches’

March 20, 2016

Gochujang Stir-Fry Sauce & Other Obsessions


At any given time I have a handful of food obsessions rolling around in my head. I find ways to incorporate them each week in my cooking and I often spend down time poking around online for creative ways to use them. Some fall off the list, others stick around and new ones are always finding their way to my dinner table. When the whole family loves them like I do, everyone is happy. Unfortunately that isn’t always the case… said the lentil salad I keep making.

My current obsessions…

Frisée – A crisp frisée salad with radicchio, farm picked diced apples and a little crumbled blue cheese could be one of the best salads. Skip the apple and cheese, and toss in some crispy pancetta or bacon lardons if you “Parlez-vous français.” Top with a poached egg and voilà! A Salade Lyonnaise. My recent dinner at the très chic restaurant La Chéri, in the Philadelphia Art Alliance building, included a delicious Salade Lyonnaise and too much French white wine I’m sorry to admit (nice segue to my next addiction).


Version 2

French White Wines – Extra dirty martinis and sazeracs no more… I don’t know what’s happened to me in the last 6 months but my alcohol tolerance has plummeted to its lowest levels. I’m sad to report my days of cocktails before having wine with dinner are over. I have however, found a new love of French whites. Our dinner at La Chéri introduced me to Vouvray, a refreshing white wine with a hint of effervescence. Sancerre and white bordeaux are also on the list. Here are a few delicious bottles. Sophie Bubbles is not impressed.



Lentils – To me, lentils are a perfect food. I love these lentils with chorizo and making lentil soup with sausage and spinach, and I even love canned lentils for this quick cold salad. I could go on and on. Below is Ottolenghi’s Mejadra, an ancient rice dish with lentils and fried onions (I could eat the whole bowl). It’s from his Jerusalem cookbook. If you love Middle Eastern food, check out his cookbooks. Love!


Gochujang – Gochujang is a Korean fermented chile paste. I’ve used it to make stir-fry, fried rice and chicken lettuce wraps. It’s spicy but not overpowering. You definitely need to mix it with other seasonings like sesame oil, soy sauce and fresh ginger. It has a wonderful umami type flavor. If you’re interested in learning a little more, Bon Appetit has a nice article about gochujang. Here’s the stir-fry sauce that I always make, adapted from Eating Well magazine. It’s an easy weeknight dinner with a spicy kick. Yum!


Gochujang Stir-Fry Sauce


  • 1/4 cup gochujang
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir-fry any combination of veggies and protein you like. Pour the stir-fry sauce over the ingredients in the pan and stir until everything is coated and the sauce is heated through. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve over brown rice.


** I’ve found Gochujang at some Wegmans and at Mekelburgs in Brooklyn.

February 17, 2015

Roasted Asparagus & Green Beans with Crispy Pancetta, Shallots & Goat Cheese


Aluminum foil is a brilliant product, but I recently noticed I was covering everything with foil. Not the furniture or anything nuts like that, but pretty much anything that was going in the oven was getting a sheet of aluminum foil. I could do a commercial about how easy clean-up is if you use aluminum foil. Then it occurred to me that all I was doing was expanding my carbon foot print and that it takes minimal elbow grease to clean the pan in the first place. So now I am going through a serious aluminum foil detox. I’m trying to embrace the naked sheet pan. Food actually roasts much nicer and as long as you use a smidge of olive oil (or other fat), it won’t stick.

The same holds true for your cookware, by the way. With the exception of a couple of fry pans for your eggs, you don’t really need non-stick cookware. Stainless cleans up great and if you have a bit of stubborn stuck on food, invest in a can of Bar Keeper’s Friend. It’s amazing! Gets any pan clean.


One night I was trying to figure out what to do with a bunch of vegetables in the refrigerator and this salad is what I came up with. Of course, I grabbed a sheet pan and the aluminum foil to roast the veggies. You can see I took these pictures before my aluminum foil intervention. I made the salad again the other night, no foil and everything turned out fine… I was fine, the pan was fine… I’m going to be fine.


I’m completely obsessed with this salad. Maybe it’s the combination of the crispy bits of pancetta with the creamy goat cheese? Maybe it’s the shallots with the sweetness of the fig balsamic? Who knows! All I can tell you is that it’s just good! And like all my other recipes, I don’t know how to make normal portions of anything, so feel free to cut it in half.



  • 4oz. pancetta, diced very small
  • 3 large shallots, sliced
  • 4oz goat cheese, sliced*
  • About 8oz green beans (a bunch)
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 6oz baby arugula
  • 3 tbsp fig balsamic*
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt & pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Trim the asparagus and green beans and lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan (no foil needed). Drizzle a little olive oil over the vegetables and roast in your preheated oven for about 15 minutes until they are crisp tender, you still want a little crunch. Give the pan a shake about halfway through. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. Preheat a small skillet on medium-high heat. Saute the diced pancetta. You don’t need any oil in the pan. Once the pancetta becomes nice and crispy, transfer it to a paper towel lined plate using a slotted spoon. Set the pancetta aside.
  4. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the pancetta fat from the skillet and sauté the shallots until they become lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
  5. To make the dressing, combine the 2 balsamic vinegars with the rosemary, salt & pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil until combined. Set aside.
  6. Put it all together… lay the arugula on a large platter. Layer the green beans and asparagus on the arugula. Nestle the slices of goat cheese and sprinkle the crispy pancetta bits and the shallots over the platter and drizzle the dressing over everything.


That’s it! So delicious and it looks so beautiful.


* You can buy goat cheese in a 4oz log at most grocery stores. I use unflavored dental floss to slice it. It works perfectly. Just make sure the cheese is very cold. If you try to slice it with a knife it will stick and fall apart. 

* If you can’t find fig balsamic, you can use all regular balsamic vinegar. I’ve found fig balsamic at Wegmans and other specialty grocery stores. It does make a big difference to the flavor of the salad. You could also whisk a little honey in with regular balsamic if you can’t find fig.



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