Cozy, Spicy, Tasty Pumpkin Bread


Kitchen Helper

With 2 jars of leftover, homemade, organic pumpkin puree in the freezer, and a light snow falling outside, it was time to make the pumpkin bread.
Along with my little helper, we scoured the internet for recipe ideas, alighting on 3 that looked good, but not quite right. So, taking some liberties, I combined the best points of each recipe, keeping healthy ingredient options in mind,  along with availability in my pantry (no one is going shopping at 7 AM on Saturday morning!) and developed the recipe below. We found inspiration on Cooking Light and Food52 (a personal favorite for recipe ideas).


Cozy, Spicy, Tasty Pumpkin Bread

I liked the idea of a spiced pumpkin bread, since oftentimes fruit and vegetable quick breads can be indistinguishable. I remember my son calling the zucchini bread I made this summer banana bread. Blame it on him being a 3 year old, but he was on to something. So, I heavied up on spices in this recipe, resulting in a great aroma in the kitchen and a more flavorful, distinctive bread.

Instead of using 100% white flour, as many recipes suggest, I incorporated whole wheat and rye flours as well. The different flours add texture to the bread, and some would argue, slightly improve the nutrition profile. I substituted coconut oil for vegetable oil, which is found in most recipes. Coconut oil is nutrient-dense, adds another layer of flavor, and is a perfect substitute for any oil or butter. If you’re interested in how coconut oil can keep you healthy this winter cold season, read here. Plus, I had it in my pantry. Also, I used only a cup of sugar, reduced from 1 1/4 sugar in most recipes. But, I am not positioning this as a super-healthy, virtuous recipe. Just a tasty one, that’s also fun to do with little kids.

Cozy, Spicy, Tasty Pumpkin Bread Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup rye flour (you can substitute with all-purpose flour if you do not have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (you can substitute with all-purpose flour if you do not have on hand)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup pumpkin pumpkin (homemade or canned)
  • 3 tablespoons softened coconut oil (can use canola oil or vegetable oil instead)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Butter to grease pan
  • Handful of chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 1 loaf ban with butter.

Combine flours, baking powder, spices, and salt and sugars in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture.

20131214-101846.jpgCombine eggs in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add pumpkin, oil, and vanilla; stir well. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter into loaf pan. If using, sprinkle walnuts on top of bread. Bake at 350° for 60 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack, and remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Yield: 1 loaf of pumpkin bread


Spaetzle 2 Ways for a Fall Sunday Dinner

As the weather turns cooler, we are all in search of cozy, comfort foods. What better excuse to make a hearty (read: carb packed) meal with your family? For years, I have known that Hubs has a soft spot for spaetzle, the Germanic noodle/dumpling. I have heard tales of family lore, making spaetzle for holidays and other special occasions. We even received a spaetzle maker as a Christmas present some years back.

Spaetzle maker

I admit here (with some embarrassment) that it remained wrapped and unused until last Sunday. As you know, I prefer to prepare meals based on nutrient-dense foods, high in protein, complex carbs, vegetables, grains and the like. Spaetzle vehemently does not meet any of these requirements. It is made from a basic dough of flour and water (or milk), and often dressed with butter or gravy. But with inspiration from the NY Times’ Melissa Clark, and a devil-may-care attitude about my waistline  (I am in the 3rd trimester of my pregnancy), it was time to make the spaetzle.


Knoffli recipe

We agreed that Hubs would be in charge of the spaetzle preparation. Hubs consulted the Cassellini family cookbook, a collection of recipes from Hubs’ maternal grandmother and her family, which has the classic family recipe, actually spelled “knöfli.”IMG_4252[1] He decided to test Melissa Clark’s updated recipe, which used rye flour, in addition to white flour, and also whole milk, in place of water. We thought this would produce a more flavorful noodle. Once the spaetzle were ready, we’d each prepare our own dish using the spaetzle base. I was going to adapt Melissa’s recipe, which incorporated cabbage and leeks (vegetables!! yay!) and Hubs would go a more traditional route. Plus, cabbage is rich in fiber, anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories. We would re-join at the dinner table and sample both for our Sunday night dinner. Keep reading for our recipes

Basic Spaetzle recipe
Adapted from Melissa Clark’s Rye Spaetzle recipe

1 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
180 grams all-purpose flour (1 1/2 cups)
100 grams rye flour (3/4 cup)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 to 1 1/2 cups whole milk, as needed


Using the Spaetzle maker

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours and 1 teaspoon salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1 cup milk. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. The consistency should be that of a sticky cake batter. As the batter sits, it will absorb more liquid; add more milk as needed to keep it loose.
Working in batches, press the spaetzle through a spaetzle maker or a colander into the boiling water. (If using a colander, either hold it with oven mitts so you don’t burn yourself over the steaming water, or get a friend to help). As the spaetzle rise to the surface, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl.

Toss spaetzle with butter or olive oil and serve as a side dish. Or, choose one of the following preparations.

Cabbage & Leek Spaetzle Gratin
adapted from Rye Spaetzle Gratin With Savoy Cabbage and Caraway

1/2 batch of  Basic Spaetzle recipe (above)
1 small-medium green cabbage (1 1/2 pound)
3/4 teaspoon whole caraway seeds
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large leeks, thinly sliced (3 cups)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Large pinch chile flakes
1 thyme branch, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, or more to taste
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
1/2 cup Gruyère or Emmentaler cheese, grated
Ground black pepper
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 425 Fahrenheit. IMG_4216[1]Discard the outer leaves of cabbage; quarter, core and slice the rest. Using a mortar and pestle or the flat of a knife, lightly crush the caraway seeds. Melt the butter in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly colored, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the caraway, garlic, chile and thyme; cook 1 minute. Add the cabbage and cook, tossing frequently, until very tender and wilted, 7 to 10 minutes. Season with vinegar and 3/4 teaspoon salt or more to taste. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

IMG_4218[1]Add the spaetzle to the pan and toss well. Scrape the mixture into a 1 1/2-quart gratin dish. Scatter cheese over the top. Bake until golden and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. Grind a generous amount of black pepper all over the top of the gratin, then serve.

YIELD 6 to 8 servings

Classic Spaetzle with Sauteed Shallots

1/2 batch of  Basic Spaetzle recipe (above)
1 shallot, chopped finely
2 tablespoons butter
Black pepper and salt, to taste

Melt butter over medium low heat. Add shallots and saute for 3-4 minutes until slightly colored, but not browned. Add spaetzle and toss to coat. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, and add freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste. Serve and enjoy.



Cabbage & Leek Spaetzle Gratin


Spaetzle with Sauteed Shallots

Both recipes tasted delicious. I cannot tell a lie, they really hit the spot for comfort food on a chilly fall night. The cabbage and leek gratin was very tasty. I used about 1/2 the amount of spaetzle called for in the original recipe, so it made for a looser and lighter gratin. It still felt rich and hearty, but not so heavy. Even Hubs admitted it had good flavor. I sampled the classic spaetzle preparation, and admitted it, too, was delicious. The rye flour used in the recipe also gave the noodles more bite and flavor, as suspected. We wholeheartedly recommended the updated recipe to Hubs’ family, even if some called it blasphemous.



Pie Pumpkin, but no Pumpkin Pie Lovers

What to do? I picked up an adorable pie pumpkin yesterday at Wolfe Spring Farm, but no one in the household or immediate circle of friends likes pumpkin pie. And, it’s post-Halloween, so how many more pumpkins do I need to decorate the home? Options: Roast, bake, compost, allow to decompose.

Pie Pumpkin

Pumpkin Seeds

Crispy, Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

I opted for roasting since I also wanted to use the seeds inside to make homemade spicy pumpkin seeds, an excellent side benefit of carving or cooking pumpkins. Plus, pumpkin is actually quite healthy. Pumpkin is rich in carotenoids, the compounds that give the pumpkin its bright orange color, including beta-carotene, and Vitamin A, and fiber. What’s not to like?

I had a 2 pound pumpkin, which was pretty manageable to cut open. I started by slicing it in half, and using a soup spoon to scoop out the seeds, reserving them in a separate bowl. I then put my knife to work, slicing the pumpkin into 1″ thick wedges. I mixed up some olive oil, honey and spices and tossed the slices with the mixture on a baking sheet. Popped it in the oven and let them do their thing for a good 45 minutes. And voila! Roasted pumpkin.

Honey Roasted Pumpkin Slices

1 small pie pumpkin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon kosher salt
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of black pepper

photo (2)

Honey Roasted Pumpkin

Preheat oven to 425 Fahrenheit. On a sturdy cutting board, and using a large chef’s knife, slice off stem of pumpkin and cut pumpkin into 2 vertical halves. Scoop out seeds and flesh with a soup spoon. Set seeds aside in a bowl if you’d like to toast them for a bonus snack (recipe below), or discard. Cut pumpkin into slices vertically (they will look half-moons). Using a spoon or paring knife, remove any additional strings from the flesh.

In a small bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Place pumpkin slices on a rimmed baking sheet and toss the slices in the the olive oil – honey mixture. Lay slices out on sheet in 1 layer. Sprinkle with an additional pinch of kosher salt and black pepper, and cayenne pepper (if using). Place baking sheet in oven. Roast for about 45 minutes, flipping slices 1 time half-way through the cooking time. Use a fork to see if the slices are tender. They should be lightly browned as well. Peel skin off before serving with a knife or gently remove the flesh by sliding a fork between the skin and the flesh. The pumpkin can be served warm or at room temperature, and will last 3 – 5 days in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

Crispy, Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Raw pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
sprinkle of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (or any other spices that you like
Kosher salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit. Assuming you are using the pumpkin seeds from your recently carved or sliced pumpkin, you’ll need to spend a few minutes cleaning up the seeds. This is arguably the most pain-staking part of the recipe. Place the pumpkin seeds in a wire mesh strainer and remove any large chunks of flesh. Then rinse the seeds under running water, making sure that you’ve removed any visible flesh and the seeds are clean. Then place seeds on a paper towel and dab them to remove excess water. They don’t have to be bone dry. I usually use 2 paper towels for this, no more.

Mix remaining ingredients. Like the recipe for roasting the pumpkin slices, place the seeds in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet (I was using my one rimmed baking sheet, so I used a pizza pan instead). Pour the olive oil mixture over the seeds and use your hands or a spoon to coat them evenly if possible. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and give pan a shake and stir around the seeds. Return to oven for another 10-15 minutes. The seeds are ready when they are lightly browned. Some may get darker, which is just fine. Taste for doneness. Allow to cool and then place in sealed container. They will last for about a week at room temperature. Enjoy your healthy, homemade snack!

Inspiration for Sunday Brunch: Spanish Tortilla and Crisp Winter Salad

Spanish Tortilla & Escarole Salad

Spanish Tortilla served with Escarole Salad

I must give credit where credit is due. This meal was largely Hubs’ inspiration. In our penultimate CSA pick-up, we had a carton of freshly dug potatoes and an overstock of bell peppers. Hubs suggested a favorite dish of ours and ran with it: the traditional Spanish Tortilla. Not to be confused with corn or flour tortillas used in Mexican cuisine, the Spanish Tortilla is an egg omelet/frittata-like dish, usually served in wedges at tapas bar all over Spain, or a staple as part of a meal. It is a hearty dish, and really makes a perfect meal on a fall morning. You can serve it warm or cold, and like most of my suggestions, makes for great leftovers.

Last Sunday morning,  as soon as breakfast was over, Hubs got straight to work on the tortilla.  It does take some prep work, but as I mentioned, it is not a one meal wonder. The beauty of preparing the tortilla in the morning is that we had our lunch ready to go and waiting for us when we came in after a brisk fall walk. All I had to do was prepare the salad. We had a large bag of curly escarole, so I made a simple balsamic vinaigrette and served it on the salad. The slightly bitter, crispy crunch of the escarole was a perfect side for the egg and potato tortilla, served room temperature. I hope this meal inspires you, too. And props to Hubs.

Tortilla Espanola
 (adapted from Mark Bittman’s Spanish Potato Omelet recipe in How to Cook Everything)
Spanish Tortilla

Spanish Tortilla

1/3 cup olive oil
1 pound yukon gold or other white potato, sliced 1/8″ thick (you can peel if you wish)
1 onion, sliced
1 red or green bell pepper, washed and sliced thinly (optional)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
6 large eggs
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Using a 10″ cast iron pan, or other oven-proof pan or skillet, heat about 1/2 the olive oil on the stove top over a medium flame. Add the potatoes slices and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, turning the slices every few minutes. They are ready when softened and slightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Add remaining oil to pan, warm for a minute, then add the pepper and onion. Saute for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are softened. Then add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Return the potatoes to the skillet and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook the potatoes, peppers and onions together, turning occasionally for another 5 minutes or so.

Beat the eggs, add salt and pepper and the parsley. Reduce the flame to low and slowly pour the eggs over the potato mixture. Shake the pan to distriubte the eggs evenly and leave undisturbed for about 5 minutes. Once oven is hot, transfer to oven and bake for ~10 minutes. The tortilla is ready when the mixture is set on top. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Flip onto serving dish, or remove carefully with spatula. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Truly Tasty Kale Salad: Hubs Approved

Hello Friends,

It has been far too long since my last post and I have missed you. I have been keeping some real keeper recipes from you these past few months, and I apologize for that. Let me start with the Truly Tasty Kale Salad. We all know that kale is a superfood, nutrient-dense and packed with antioxidants.

Courtesy of UNH

Kale Salad Infographic

We are supposed to devour it by the pound to stay young, fit and healthy. But the honest truth is that it is hard to love. You can’t just cut it up and eat it like a carrot or bell pepper, or treat it like a handful of baby greens dressed in a delicious olive oil, balsamic vinaigrette. It requires some effort to make it palatable, and the mere hype factor has caused some to disavow it. I’ve turned it into a snack before, making crispy spicy chips, and used it as a sidebar ingredient in a veggie quinoa salad.

So I truly felt compelled to share this recipe because it features kale front and center. The Truly Tasty Kale Salad has only a handful of ingredients, takes about 15 minutes to prepare and deserves a spot on your dinner table, either as the main attraction, or as a hearty first course. Here’s why: even Hubs likes it. He said so.

3 kale salad tips for you I’ve picked up after perfecting this recipe:

  • Chop up the kale very finely. Abuse it. It can take it.
  • Use more dressing than you would for a normal salad. The recipe below is for 2 servings. You won’t be sorry.
  • Dress the salad and let sit with dressing 10-30 minutes before serving (usually a big no-no as it wilts ALL OTHER PUNY GREENS)


  • 6 ounces kale, or roughly half a bunch
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (or toasted almonds, hazlenuts if you have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmiggiano or pecorino romano
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Croutons (optional)


  1. Roughly chop walnuts (or almonds or hazelnuts) and lightly toast in a pan for 2-4 minutes until slightly colored and set aside. Don’t leave them unattended – they can burn easily. I speak from experience.
  2. Remove spines from kale by either pulling off leaves from center spine or using a paring knife. I find it easier to rip off the leaves, and then wash and dry leaves. If you have a different method, that’s fine. Once you have clean, dry kale leaves, get out your chef’s knife and start finely chopping the kale. Start by rolling the leaves and slicing it up in a ribbons. Then turn your ribbons 90 degrees and chop some more. You want the kale thoroughly chopped into small squares. Place in salad bowl.
  3. Make the dressing. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey and salt and pepper. Use a whisk to emulsify the dressing. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed. Now you are ready to assemble. Combine the dressing, shredded cheese, nuts and croutons (if using). Toss well. Set aside for at least 10 minutes, more if you have the time. Toss again before serving and enjoy.
  4. Happy eating!

This recipe was inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perelman kale salad recipe. She is not one to kowtow to health foods fad, and her writing has yet to fail me. Her new cookbook is the bomb.

Bright, Citrus-y Pepper Pasta

Citrus-y Pepper Pasta

Citrus-y Pepper Pasta to brighten your winter night

In advance of our Oscars party, we revisited a classic recipe, adapted from The Red Cat restaurant cookbook – Spaghetti with Citrus-y Pepper Sauce.
I used

rozen bell peppers from our CSA. And as the peppers are already sliced up, we put this delicious dish together in about 25 minutes.

If you’ve got some peppers in your freezer, try this recipe. For your consideration.

What’s for Dinner? Charmoula-Rubbed Mahi-Mahi Never Said Anyone

Charmoula-Rubbed Mahi-Mahi and Shallot Bulgur. Courtesy of Bon Appetit

Looking for a fast, healthy and tasty weeknight meal? This is it, and don’t be put off by the unfamiliar spice concoction. Charmoula-rubbed Mahi-Mahi  is easy peasy, especially when paired with Shallot Bulgur. You must be thinking that I am on a spice-rub kick. ‘Tis true. This recipe, likes others from the so-called cleanse, took me out of my cooking comfort zone, requiring the use of unusual spices and various healthy, whole grains…like bulgur! How exciting – I had not prepared bulgur before, so it was great to discover another high-fiber whole grain, easy to prepare and even Hubs-approved. Sara Dickerman pairs the Mahi Mahi with a sliced orange salad. Visually, it is a treat (see below), but really not worth the effort. It makes the whole meal more complicated to prepare, and I suggest skipping it in lieu of a sliced orange for garnish.

Charmoula-Rubbed Mahi-Mahi

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, or parsley (I used parsley since I had it on hand)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • 4 6-oz. mahi-mahi fillets


  • Stir together cilantro or parsley, oil, cumin, paprika, salt, lime juice, garlic, and 1 Tbsp. water (alternatively, pulse ingredients in a food processor for a smoother texture and a slightly more intense herbal flavor). Rub mixture onto the mahi-mahi fillets and chill for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 425°. Place marinated fish on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until fish is just opaque in center, 10–15 minutes.

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Fermentation Fascination Continues

Prepped for the fermentation jars

Good Color: Prepped for the Mason jars

After my first fermentation attempts 2 weeks ago, I was eager to try more. And what are long weekends for, if not fermenting with friends?  And, might I add that my first batch of Slaw was long gone? We consumed all that probiotic yumminess in about a week. Using the simple “add salt and let sit” method, I used the second half of my red cabbage for another batch of Fermented Red Cabbage Coleslaw. This time, I put some elbow grease into it and left the Cuisinart in its cupboard. Here’s my recipe for fast and easy fermented slaw, inspired by Feedmelikeyoumeanit.

Fermented Red Cabbage Slaw

1/2 red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, sliced into rings
1 bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
Kosher salt

Special Equipment: Kitchen scale, 2 1-pint mason jars

Fermented Coleslaw - red cabbage, onion, bell peppers and carrot

Fermented Coleslaw: red cabbage, onion, bell peppers and carrot

Mix all vegetables in a large, non-reactive bowl. You can use your Cuisinart to chop the vegetables, or simply chop up by hand. Weigh the bowl of vegetables and for every pound, add 2.5 teaspoons kosher salt to vegetables. Mix well. My batch weighed about 3 pounds, so I used ~8 teaspoons of salt. Using your hands, begin to pack the vegetables into a mason jar. After every handful, press down, making space for more. You want to pack the vegetables in tightly, and may be surprised at how much goodness you can fit into one (relatively small) jar. Leave about an 1″ space at the top and seal tightly. Repeat to fill other jar. Set aside in your kitchen on a countertop or pantry for 4-5 days. Taste after 2 days, opening the jar carefully over a sink. When you open, the contents may be bubbling, so do be careful. The slaw is ready when you like the taste of it. It will be sour and crunchy.

Place in the refrigerator and use within 3 months. You will be surprised at how crunchy and tasty the vegetables are (and remain!). Enjoy!

Amazing Everyday Salmon Spice Rub Recipe – One from the Vault

Spice-rubbed Seared Salmon

Spice-rubbed Seared Salmon

Happy day after Valentine’s Day. Perhaps it is my long-term love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day that caused me to ignore the day itself, but allow me to acknowledge it a day after. Having spent many a Valentine’s Day solo, I learned to downplay, even ignore it, long ago. And once Hubs came around (pre-Hubs moniker days), I was certainly pleased to have someone special to share the day with, but I still couldn’t get overly excited about it. After all, it’s the day-to-day that matters in life, right? So, Hubs and I started a Valentine’s Day tradition – select and prepare a menu together at home. No posh restaurant, no flowers (I wouldn’t turn them down, mind you), but a shared experience, maybe with some candlelight and a bottle of good wine. It has suited us just fine, and we have adapted over the years, too.

While I was researching our menu, I took a peak into the vault and decided to repeat a previous hit.  Spice-rubbed Seared Salmon: it’s a great recipe from either our first or second Valentine’s Day menu. And I love that I found it handwritten on paper, old school style. In fact, this recipe is so simple, I am amazed we thought this was a special occasion dish (guess I cooked a lot less back then than I do now). So, in honoring the love of the everyday, I am sharing this recipe with you now, post-holiday. Try it and let me know what you think

Spice-Rubbed Seared Salmon

  • 1 Tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 Tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 Tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 Tsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 salmon fillets (6-8 oz each) with skin intact
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil


Heat fry pan on medium heat. Add spices and toast 2-3 minutes. Grind spices in spice mill, or use mortar and pestle. Pour into small bowl and add brown sugar and kosher salt to make the rub. Place salmon on a plate and press rub into salmon. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Spice-rubbed salmon searing

Spice-rubbed salmon searing

Preheat oven to 400F. Heat cast iron pan or other oven-proof pan and add olive oil. Heat until smoking, then place salmon skin side down on pan and sear for 4-5 minutes depending on thickness of fillet. Flip salmon gently using tongs (keep skin intact), and place pan in oven. Cook 4-6 minutes until cooked through.

Please don’t wait til next Valentine’s Day to try this!

Poached Eggs in Tunisian Red Pepper Sauce Sounds Better Than Green Juice

Poached Eggs with Tunisian Red Pepper Sauce & Chickpeas with Leeks, Spinach and Smoked Paprika. Courtesy of Bon Appetit

And it looks and tastes a heck of a lot better, too. This is post #2 in my series on the “So-called Cleanse” for food lovers. I found this dinner recipe mid-way through the 2 week menu from Bon Appetit’s Food Lover’s Cleanse and fell in love.  High-protein, vegetarian, healthy: Poached Eggs with Tunisian Red Pepper Sauce & Chickpeas with Leeks, Spinach and Smoked Paprika. I have already prepared this meal 3 times, sometimes with the accompanying chickpeas, sometimes without, and it is a hit. The red pepper sauce is delicious, with many flavors layered upon one another, and the real kicker is the harissa paste. Also, I have tons of bell peppers in the freezer from the CSA so finding this recipe was a bonus for me. 

Harissa Paste in tube

I had never purchased or used harissa until now, and I am intrigued.  was very glad that this recipe pushed me out of my comfort zone and exposed me to this new ingredient – spicy, smoky, colorful. All good.  Harissa comes in a tube or glass jar. And, WARNING! The level of spiciness can vary dramatically. I speak from experience. Have you used harissa?

The accompaniment, Chickpeas with Leeks, Spinach and Smoked Paprika, is also a great stand-alone dish. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare, is high-protein, vitamin-packed and flavorful. I enjoyed leftovers for lunch the next day and have prepared it for a quick meal without the Poached Eggs dish. I did make a few modifications to these recipes. Hubs is not a fan of poached eggs, so we substituted scrambled eggs and it worked. He seemed to enjoy his meal as much as I did, even without the richness of the poached egg’s yolk mixing with the spicy peppers. Hubs also seemed to enjoy the meal without the accompanying Chickpeas, as that remains a verboten food. Hubs was a good sport about the Cleanse overall, but apparently there are limits. See my modified recipe below.

Eggs with Tunisian Red Pepper Sauce (adapted from Bon Appetit)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored, cut lengthwise into 1/2”-wide strips
  • 1  teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more for seasoning
  • 1  tomato, cored, grated using the large holes on a box grater
  • 1/2 tablespoon (or more) harissa paste (taste for level of desired heat)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar (if poaching eggs)
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon


  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add peppers and 1 tsp. kosher salt and cook, stirring often, until peppers are wilted, 5—8 minutes. Add tomato, 1/2 Tbsp. harissa, and 1 cup water; reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often and adding more water if too dry, until peppers are soft, 15—20 minutes. Season with kosher salt and more harissa, if desired. Keep warm.
  • Meanwhile, fill a large skillet with water if poaching eggs. Add vinegar and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt; bring to a simmer. Crack each egg into a teacup, then slide each one into the water; reduce heat to low. Poach eggs until whites are set and yolks are gently set, 3—4 minutes. Alternately, prepare scrambled eggs as you normally would in place of the poached eggs (no vinegar needed).
  • Divide pepper sauce among four warm bowls and top each with 2  poached eggs, or divide scrambled eggs. Season eggs with flaky sea salt.

Yield: 2 servings

Happy eating!