Aglio e Olio Broccoli Toast


My spirit vegetable is garlic.

I’ve been in a “back to basics” cooking mood as of late, and which cuisine is better for this than Italian food? Dead simple recipes with fresh ingredients prepared in less than 30 minutes. But after the 6th pasta night, a girl goes a little stir crazy. Here’s an American twist on the classic Italian knock out.

Yield: 6 open faced sandwiches


  • 6 slices toast
  • 1/2 kg broccoli florets (make them small)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • juice and zest from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesean cheese
  • 6 slices of mild cheese (e.g. Provolone, Young Gouda, Swiss, etc)


  1. Steam the broccoli for 2-3 minutes.
  2. In a saute pan, heat the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper in medium-low heat. The garlic should not brown, but rather become very fragrant. Do this for about 10 minutes, or until you can see the oil start to turn a bit red from the chili flakes.
  3. Add the broccoli, lemon juice, lemon zest, Parmesean cheese and salt to taste.
  4. Spoon the mixture over each slice of toast.
  5. Place one slice of cheese on top of each sandwich.
  6. Broil the sandwiches until the cheese gets bubbly and turns a little brown – maybe around 4 minutes.

Homemade oven baked fries


There’s only a “before” picture because the finished fries were demolished before a picture could be taken.

My eyes have been opened. I once was blind, but now I see. The secret to homemade oven baked fries? Soak the starch out of the potatoes and make sure they’re properly dry before baking. If these fries come out limp, there’s either too much starch in them or they weren’t sufficiently dried before entering the oven. Put on your stretchy pants because this is a belly buster.

Yield: is it 1 serving if I can polish off the whole tray alone?


  • 3 medium potatoes (mix it up! you can use purple potatoes, sweet potatoes, yukon, russet, whatever Speisekartoffeln your heart desires) – don’t bother skinning the potatoes, as most of the nutrients are in the skin anyhow
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • optional: ~1 tsp taco seasoning or curry powder
  • optional: parmesean cheese, truffle oil, rosemary, or parsely as a topping
  • salt to taste


  1. Julienne the potatoes. Take this opportunity to polish your knife skills and flex your pipes.
  2. Soak the fries in cold water for at least 30 minutes. Sometimes, I soak the really starchy potatoes for up to 45 minutes.
  3. Rinse the potatoes with fresh water and drain.
  4. Lay the fries out on a few paper towels to dry for 30-45 minutes.
  5. Toss with the olive oil, a dash of salt, and any seasoning (if using).
  6. Heat the oven to 205 C.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes.
  8. Turn up the heat to 220 C and shuffle the fries around.
  9. Bake for another 20 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle the toppings over the golden digits (if using).

Gooey Marzipan Müsli Chocolate Bars

I’m pleased – it’s a good sign you’re getting more comfortable with your city when you can mix up local ingredients (marzipan & müsli) with a classic recipe (cookie bars). Toss in some ghee and you’ve got yourself a funky, unexpected drool-inducer.

Yield: one 9×13 pan



  • 200g marzipan
  • 230g flour (1 3/4 cups)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 65g sugar (1/3 cup)
  • 125g butter (keep it cold and slice into chunks) – I prefer Sauerrahmbutter, but I guess regular butter could do (in a pinch)


  • 105g müsli (1 1/3 cup) – could sub rolled oats
  • 125g butter – see the note on Sauerrahmbutter above (I said we were tossing in ghee right?)
  • 100g sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1-2 vanilla pods)
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded coconut
  • 200g chocolate chips
  • a handful of chopped dried fruits, e.g. figs, dates, or apricots
  • powdered sugar, to finish


  1. Preheat the oven to 175 C.
  2. Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. Combine the crust ingredients in a bowl and knead it well. The dough will be very crumbly at first, but keep at it, and it’ll come together promptly. You don’t have to make it extremely smooth – the butter chunks should not be too well incorporated in the dough (channel your pie crust making skills).
  4. Press the crust evenly into the pan with your fingers, and let it come up the sides by about 1/4 inch.
  5. Bake the crust for 20-30 minutes, or until it’s lightly golden.
  6. Meanwhile in a saucepan on the stove, melt the butter over medium heat. Do not be tempted to turn this to high heat because it will burn quickly. Pay attention to the water escaping as it’s heated (bubbly noises). Once the bubbly noises taper off, some of the milk solids in the butter will start to brown. Only let it brown a little – take it off the heat.
  7. Stir in the sugar and salt. Let this cool for 10 minutes.
  8. Stir in the eggs and vanilla to the butter mix.
  9. Combine the gooey filling with the müsli, chocolate, coconut, and dried fruit (if using).
  10. Evenly spread the filling over the parbaked crust.
  11. Bake for another 15-20 minutes.
  12. Once cool, you can cut the bars and dust with the powdered sugar.

Carrot salad with roasted chickpeas and pistachios

This salad is so good that if I were left to my own devices, I would eat all 4 servings in one sitting. Gulp.

Yield: 4 servings (or 1 really big one)



  • one can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and lightly dried
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin


  • 4 tbsp tahini
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • juice from 1 lemon, strained
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • to consider for next time: one crushed, smoked serrano pepper


  • 4-5 grated carrots
  • 1/4 cup of chopped pistachios (I usually find the roasted and salted variety, but this would work with the roasted and unsalted type as well)


  1. After tossing with the oil and spices, bake the chickpeas at 220C for 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the dressing and prepare the salad.
  3. Toss everything together. and serve with a bit of parsley as garnish. Alternatively, you can keep the chickpeas and pistachios separate until moments before you eat (so as to preserve the crunch)

Choco Coco Peanut Butter Dates

This is my first vegan dessert, and it turned out amazing the first time I made it. How many times can I claim wild success the first time I make something? (Answer: once) If I were to imagine what a “healthy” snickers bar should taste like, it would be these chocolate covered dates. And the best part is that there is no baking involved whatsoever! Actually the best part is the leftover peanut butter mousse – it is top notch on apples, celery, toast… the list goes on.

Yield: 33 chocolate covered dates


  • 300 g dates
  • 64 g crunchy peanut butter (about 1/2 cup)
  • 150 g dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 can of coconut milk, refrigerated overnight


  1. Scoop out the fat in the coconut milk can (it will have separated from the liquid).
  2. Whip the coconut cream vigorously for a minute.
  3. Fold in the peanut butter and continue whipping.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. While you wait, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a small saucepan or in a double boiler.
  6. Pit the dates. I made a small slice down the length of each date to remove the pit – without the pit, the dates could still be smooshed back together. I did not cut through the date completely.
  7. Fill the empty cavity in the dates with the peanut butter mousse and smoosh them back to their original shape.
  8. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  9. Dip the dates in chocolate. Place them on the parchment paper. A fork is very useful for this part.
  10. If it’s cold outside, put the dates outside to set. Otherwise, put them in the refrigerator. This took around 30 minutes.

Chocolate Turtle Cookies


This is is the cookie to end all cookies, although I have no idea what turtles have to do with it. The memory of eating this cookie for the very first time is seared into my brain. Some foods are just like that – I can vividly remember the very first time I tried this cookie in my high school cafeteria. Yup, this cookie brings back those kinds of memories.

Yields: 13 large cookies or 26 smallish cookies


  • 1 and 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 100 g butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans (I have also tried walnuts and they work too)
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • 80 g soft caramel candies diced into very small cubes


  1. Preheat the oven to 175 C
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda
  3. In another large bowl, mix the wet ingredients: melted butter, sugar, egg, vanilla extract, milk
  4. Add the flour mixture to the bowl with wet ingredients in thirds
  5. Fold in the caramel candies and the chopped nuts
  6. Form the dough into small balls and lay them out on a cookie sheet
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes (Around minute 8, I will press them down with a spoon to flatten them a little)

Cinnamon coffee cake

Soft, fluffy, buttery goodness – who can resist this, especially in the morning with a steamy cup of coffee? Extra bonus: you probably already have all these ingredients somewhere in your kitchen.

Servings: one standard size loaf pan



  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 50 g melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla or 1 vanilla bean
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 1 egg


  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50 g melted butter


  • 1 tsp vanilla or 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk


  1. Separately mix the wet and dry ingredients for the cake. Make sure you sift the dry stuff well (saves you the headache of lumpy batter later)
  2. Slowly add the dry cake mix into the wet mix, folding well.
  3. Preheat the oven to 175 C
  4. Pour the batter into a greased and floured loaf pan
  5. Prepare the topping by mixing all the ingredients well
  6. Pour the topping over the batter, and swirl with a knife
  7. Bake for 40 minutes
  8. While the cake is still warm, pour the glaze over it. The glaze will harden somewhat when the cake is completely cooled